Presentation of a documentary film project


 Every biography of the artist Edvard Munch devotes scrupulous
 attention to his family history on his father's side. It was after all
 a colourful gallery of more or less renowned priests, painters, and
 authors, with historian P.A. Munch as its leading light. Little or no
 space is devoted in these countless biographies of Edvard Munch to his
 mother's family tree. This is especially remarkable, considering that
 it was from this side of the family Munch believed he had inherited
 his artistic talent. In many ways his mother, Laura Cathrine, and in
 particular his aunt, Karen, can be credited with his rise to

 Edvard Munch's mother died of tuberculosis when he was only 5 years
 old. His memories of her and of her death would later in life become
 important aspects of his art. Laura Cathrine Munch lived to be only 31
 years old.

     Mother, Laura Cathrine Munch                   Aunt, Karen Bjølstad

 When Edvard Munch lost his mother, her sister Karen Bjølstad assumed
 responsibility for bringing up the children. She moved in with the
 family and eventually also received an offer of marriage from Edvard
 Munch's father. But she turned it down; she wanted to help, but not to
 be a stepmother. Both Laura Cathrine and Karen had inherited creative
 talents from their mother's side of the family. The young Edvard was
 actively encouraged to draw. From the earliest days Karen was
 convinced he had the makings of a great artist. She followed his
 artistic development assiduously as long as she lived. She also had a
 considerable talent for drawing. Edvard Munch once said of her: "Karen
 could have been a great artist if she had travelled and seen more of
 the world." Karen lived to be 91 years old.

 We wish to make a poetical documentary film exploring the significance
 of these two women for Edvard Munch's life and art, as expressed
 through his works, and through their photographs, letters, and other

 Edvard Munch maintained throughout his life a lively correspondence
 with Karen Bjølstad. Here he expressed his feelings about important
 events in his life and career, including turning points such as his
 mother's death, his artistic vocation, success and failure, and
 sickness and death in the family.

 Edvard Munch used his aunt several times as a model for figures in his
 works, including Aunt Karen Knitting (1882), Aunt on the veranda
 (1888) and Spring (1889). His mother's side of the family had been
 particularly susceptible to tuberculosis, and sickness and death
 became central themes of Munch's work. Through his choice of themes
 and models it is possible to identify the significance for him of
 family life and family members.

 Munch's writings, including literary diaries, letters, sketches for
 letters, shopping lists, and notebooks, comprises some 13.000 pages.
 It is difficult to draw a line between Munch's literary production and
 writings of a purely private character, something that is unusual
 among artists. Much of what he consigns to paper, whether literary
 diaries or letters, reinforces the inseparable unity between his life
 and art. The artist's childhood memories, romances, friendships, and
 intrigues form a constant reference background in his varied texts.

 Edvard Munch was also a keen amateur photographer and the documentary
 film will of course draw on those images reflecting his bonds to the
 childhood home where his talent was nurtured, and to his "mothers".

      Karen and Edvard's sister, Inger

 In later life Edvard Munch described his home life in this way:

 «... My father's patients came to our house and were examined behind a
 curtain. I drew. My aunt and sisters sewed – dolls and hats that were
 to be sold. My sister Inger gave piano lessons. Everything went on in
 the house...»

   The mother, Laura, with all the children

 The death of his mother is the first major turning point in Edvard
 Munch's life. He was only 5 years old. This first hand experience of
 life's transience and death's brutality becomes his life's trauma, and
 a rich vein of material for his art. It will also form the first
 turning point of the film.

 It raises a series of questions we will try to answer: Who was his
 mother? What did she mean to Edvard? What happened after her death?
 Why did her sister, Karen Bjølstad, devote herself to bringing up her
 sister's children? Why would she not marry Edvard's father? What
 influence did these two women exert on Edvard?

      Aunt Karen in late years

 We follow the relationship between Edvard Munch and Karen Bjølstad
 through the many turning points of his life as greater and smaller
 situations and crises arise – concluding with Aunt Karen's death in

 Two of today's women will guide us through Edvard's, Laura's, and
 Karen's universe:

 Author and journalist Torill Stokkan, who has written the book Anene,
 kvinnene og livet – Edvard Munch (Munch: his ancestry and the women in
 his life), will be the driving force of the film, investigating the
 ways the lives of these three figures were bound up with each other.

 Sculptor Birthe Marie Løveid has been commissioned to create a
 monument to Munch's "mothers". The creative process leading to the
 unveiling of the sculpture in 2013 will form a recurring thread
 throughout the film.

 Lars Rasmussen