The sadness of life
In my humble opinion this is what this painting is about: Life itself and what
it is to be a human being. Munch was trying to say: this is, essentially,
what all of life is about: sitting there by the ocean, the great unknown, watching
as life passes you by, as every moment turns from present to past. People
come and go and the clock keeps ticking away seconds of your life.
It is like the great philosopher Heraclites once said: panta rhei (everything
flows). Nothing stays the same, everything is changing constantly. Be it either
for the good or for the bad. Of course not everybody realizes this, only those
who still have the courage and intelligence to recognize this simple fact and
remain sensitive enough to feel sad and melancholic about it. It takes a truly
great artist, and Munch certainly was one of the greatest, to convey those feelings
of sadness and melancholy in this one striking, powerful image. This is truly
a great work of art and a source for deep thinking and reflection.
wrote on Mar 18, 2002:
I saw this picture for the first time when I was 11. My mother
stared at it and then said do you like it. I replied it's ok,
it looks too sad. I saw it again on the Internet and it's still
as sad but I feel it says more to me now that I have cared enough
about someone to really miss them.
wrote on Mar 5, 2002:
What a pain and punishment it is: Unrequited Love. I am this man,
the very man who can do nothing but watch the ocean as his love
departs with another. The pain that comes from such a thing is
Alvarez wrote on Dec 12, 2001:
5 years ago I saw Melancholy at the National Gallery in London.
I cried that afternoon. Today, I saw it again through the Internet,
and everything came back. So many things have changed in 5 years,
so many things are exactly the same. Melancholy is a truly universal
work of art, for I believe anyone can feel the pain Munch felt
when he painted it. Where will we all be in 5 years? Probably
still staring at the ocean while life goes by.
K. wrote on Jun 7, 2001:
know what she [sic] is thinking...
This picture could be any year, any time, any place.... what is
making her sad? Why does she sit alone? This picture speaks to
me, because I can relate to sitting alone and contemplating different
issues. You feel for this woman, who you don't know. His picture
paints a story that a novel may not be able to do.
and Emma wrote on Oct 30, 2000:
man sits alone and depressed
Good use of light and shadow. Though the man's face is impassive,
you can almost see his thoughts. The way there is a couple walking
in the background adds to the effect of his loneliness and depression.
His head resting on his hands gives the impression that he has
something on his mind. The swirly effect used on the rocks is
very realistic, but at the same time is a very individual way
of looking at it. The way the light is shown on the sea is also
very effective, giving the painting an eerie look.
Edvard Munch: The Frieze
Oil on canvas
72 x 98 cm