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Lebensfries means Life Frieze in German and refers to a series of artworks produced by Edvard Munch which focused on love, life and death. Most iterations in this series came during the 1890s.
This was an artist who contemplated emotion within his work, and concentrated on all different types, both positive and also negative. Munch would then re-visit these themes later in his career, but within a different style, leaving behind two contrasting bodies of work which included some of his most famous paintings. There were also works in other mediums featured within these series as well, such as highly developed drawings. The artwork that we find in front of us here is actually a lithograph, hence the darkened contrast and lack of a bright palette. It is a cropped version of the artist's portrait of Eva Mudocci, a woman with whom he would share a close relationship which included both friendship and also a more romantic side. This piece therefore fits into the theme of love, rather than life or death.
One can see straight away a beautiful woman, and it is easy to see how an artist would be drawn to this woman. She carried a look that would be ideal for his portraiture but he was also deeply attracted to her as well. Such a relationship would enable Munch to delve into his own emotions for this portrait and it was these which drove most of his paintings, because of his style as an expressionist artist. He would sometimes address human emotions directly, concentrating entirely on a particular issue, such as Despair, Anxiety or Melancholy. It is these paintings which are amongst his most memorable pieces and provided something for the art world which was fairly unique at that time. The emotions continued with his series of The Scream, where the emotion of fear created an iconic image that remains famous all around the world.
The larger artwork features a fuller portrait of Eva Mudocci along with a brooch. It is a part of the collection of the Munch Museum in Oslo which is the first place to visit for followers of the artist. The number of works that they possess from his career is extraordinary and few famous artists are as well represented within a single art institution. It serves as a major attraction to tourists in Oslo, particularly because his own reputation is considerable even within those who are not particularly knowledgeable about art history. The media focus on Munch's The Scream continues to publicise his work amongst younger generations and the expressive nature of his work also feels particularly contemporary, even all these years later.