Cabbage Field Edvard Munch Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Most of Edvard Munch's artworks are Expressionistic more than Naturalistic, and Cabbage Field is no different.

The oil-on-canvas painting depicts the landscape of a cabbage field with its sketch-like, green-blue cabbages in the foreground, the yellow rough brushstrokes that cover the area around the cabbages, and the dark blue sky disappearing in the background. At first glance, this art piece made in 1915 during World War I appears simple without a story to tell other than present a sketchy landscape view of a cabbage field. Yet the more a person looks at it, the more they get the feeling that there is more to the painting. It becomes clear that Munch, a painter of life, death, dreams and sexuality had a story to tell with his cabbage field. So, what kind of feelings did Munch want his audience to experience as they gazed at this field of cabbages with a looming dark horizon in the background? What themes was he trying to pass across?

The story lies not in the obvious lines of cabbages disappearing into a dark horizon but rather in the radical simplification of all the shapes and colours used in the painting. It is this simplicity that seems to subconsciously draw one to experience the feelings depicted rather than admire the view painted. In the years leading up to the painting, Munch went through a period of tragedy marked by the loss of his father, his sister, and his mother. This was followed by a punctuating alcohol problem that persisted through his youth. Perhaps that's why the Cabbage Field, with its dark colours in the horizon and its bright colours in the foreground, seems to be telling the story of a deep sense of longing to be one with nature, to blend in with something rather than just self, to reconcile with a world he had so adamantly been at war with before.

With Cabbage Field, which now resides in the Munch Museum in Oslo, Munch explores human nature without really painting anything human allowing his audience a wide range of interpretations. For instance, the dark blue horizon in the background can also be seen to present the looming death and darkness in the world, a theme that can be supported with his other painting, Death Struggle painted in the same chaotic and appalling period of World War I.