- Artist: Edvard Munch
- Creation date: Påbegynt 1895, avsluttet 1902 (plate)
- Object type: Graphic arts
Munch frequently repeated motifs that he found particularly interesting, some of them many times and in a range of media. He first worked with the motif seen in this print in paint in 1893. In 1896 he produced a black and white lithograph on the theme, and in 1902 he combined lithography and woodcut. Later he painted several new versions. The depiction of a red-haired woman leaning over the neck of a man kneeling in front of her has clearly erotic overtones. Is she kissing or biting him? The title Vampire can be traced back to the Polish author Stanislav Przybyszewski, one of the central figures in the circle Munch frequented in Berlin in the 1890s. It emphasises the threatening role of the woman and the painful aspect of the man’s experience of love. Not only was this a theme that interested the Berlin circle and the Christiania Bohemians, it also preoccupied Munch on account of personal experience. The picture has also been known under the title Love and Pain.
Munch was interested in the many variations that could be achieved through the manipulation of printing techniques. For this reason he often used different colours in making prints from the same block, often in unusual combinations. Vampire II is a fascinating example. Here he has combined a black and white print from a lithographic stone he had used in 1896 with coloured prints from a woodcut created in 1902. On past occasions he had cut the wood block into pieces, applied ink to each piece individually, then reassembled them (like a puzzle) before running off a print. There are several versions of Vampire II using different colours.
We do not know when the National Gallery acquired this print.
Born 1863 in Løten, Hedmark, death 1944 in Oslo
Edvard Munch worked as an artist for over sixty years. He was creative, ambitious and hardworking. He produced nearly two thousand paintings, hundreds of graphic motifs and thousands of drawings. In addition, he wrote poems, prose and diaries. The Scream, Madonna, Death in the Sickroom and the other symbolist works from the 1890s have made him one of the most famous artists of our time.
"Don't become an artist!"
Edvard wanted to become an artist early on, and there was no doubt that he had talent. But his father refused to allow him to follow his dream, so Edvard began studying engineering. But already after one year he chose to defy his father, and switched from engineering college to the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry in Kristiania, now Oslo.
A talented and provocative bohemian
It was obvious to everyone in the Norwegian art community that the young man showed rare talent. In 1883, at the age of 20, he debuted at Høstutstillingen (The Autumn Exhibition). In 1886, Munch became acquainted with author and anarchist Hans Jæger, a leading figure in the Kristiania bohemian community. The bohemian community convinced Munch that the arts had to renew themselves to reach people and to have relevance in their lives. In the same year he exhibited the painting The Sick Child. This generated debate!
Courage led to breakthrough
Some acclaimed The Sick Child a work of genius, while others deemed it unfinished and unworthy of exhibition. Today it is considered to mark Munch's breakthrough. It was here that demonstrated the independence and willingness to break fresh ground.
From this point until his final brush strokes, his artistic practice can be summed up in just word: experimentation. Munch did not care about established "rules" for so-called good art. His techniques in both painting and graphics were innovative.
From people's emotional life to agriculture and landscape
Henrik Ibsen's plays about humanity's existential challenges inspired Munch. Themes such as death, love, sexuality, jealousy and anxiety were central to his early images. Some themes sprang from personal experience. For example, Death in the Sickroom and The Sick Child are linked to his memory of his mother and sister's illnesses and early deaths.
After 1910, Munch chose a quieter and secluded life. At his own farms at Ekely in Oslo and in Hvitsten, he found entirely new motifs, such as agriculture, working life and landscapes. Man in the Cabbage Field is a typical example from this period.