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Love Paintings > Vampire


Vampire, 1893-4
Oil on canvas
91 x 109 cm

Related Works

Vampire (lithograph)
Vampire (woodcut)

Your Comments

Beaners wrote on Dec 9, 2003:
Munch did not title this painting "Vampire"
Jason S. is correct. This painting was originally titled "Love and Pain". A critic named Stanislaw Przybyszewski mistakenly interpreted this painting as being vampiric in theme and content. The painting became known as "Vampire" only after his erroneous assessment of it. The woman in the painting is consoling her lover, not sucking his blood.

Dooodad wrote on Nov 17, 2003:
Love and Pain
The painting gives a sinister and macabre view on love. Presumably, the man in the picture represents Munch; the woman could be a representation of Juell, one of his unsuccessful loves. The relationship between these two figures is less clear. Has the man fallen victim to the woman’s vampirism? Or is he merely resting his head on the woman’s bosom, seeking comfort? Munch has deliberately made their relationship ambiguous. The original title of this painting, Love and Pain, suggests a relationship between falling in love and getting hurt. There is a tenderness and intimacy in this painting that is not entirely threatening, and yet the woman dominates the vulnerable man. Munch did not believe that there is an easy answer to love.

Natalie Miller wrote on Nov 11, 2003:
When I first looked at this picture, it looked to me like a mother or lover caressing someone's head, and I thought that it was a picture that reflects the love that people can feel for one another in a relationship. After finding out the title of this lithograph, this initial perception of this picture was completely erased and it suddenly had a rather sinister and almost disturbing atmosphere about it, and as such i think that this picture is cleverly deceptive.

Anonymous wrote on Nov 11, 2003:

Vampires usually represent evil, blood, sin. All those things relate to the passion of this painting. Passion leads to sexuality, and sexuality is carnality and can become taboo sex. Therefore, sometimes sexuality is regarded as sin, evil, and thirst for blood and flesh. Which explains the woman being a vampire. but then again, the couple is embracing each other. This portrays love. It shows that love is both pure and evil. Pure because they love each other as they are. The woman loves the man, even though he is just a man, and the man loves the woman even though she is a vampire. Unconditional and pure. But then it is also evil because it involves passion and sexuality. Without purity or passion, good or evil, love would be incomplete. It has to have both to be a perfect match, such as the one in the painting.

a_kid_on_an_art_project wrote on Nov 3, 2003:
When I look at this painting, I see a couple who are frightened of something and clinging to each other in desperation. It makes me wonder what they may be afraid of. The shape around them suggests that they may be trapped together and surrounded by darkness.

Sydnei Wylder wrote on Mar 30, 2002:
Jason S, has much insight....
Sometimes, the things we see in love are so simple, yet the need to complicate them prevails, perhaps by human nature. It is so much easier to just... be happy. But the personal demons that engulf us like pride, arrogance, previous pain, etc. draw us into its web of pain begets pain, and the true essence of love is lost. The worst pain are two, so deeply in love, fighting against each other because even if you win, you lose. The man realizes this, and he is so tired of fighting, he lets himself be drained - he lets her feed because he knows that at least he becomes a part of her after she consumes him. It speaks of complete sacrifice. He gives and she needs to take to stay alive because she knows no other way. Painful is this love. But it is love. He dies, she lives. Can you possibly get a more explicit expression of love than that?

Irina Alraune wrote on Mar 1, 2002:
Death and Love embraced
This painting for me is full of pain. I can feel it with all of my fibers when I look at it. There is an eternal paradox of death and love being so close to each other. Well, sometimes passion really reminds me of hunger.

Jason S. wrote on Oct 11, 2001:
Double-edged Sword
This picture was not originally titled "The Vampire" but received this name from a later art critic. The title in inappropriate, conjuring a one-way predatory relationship to the painting. The picture portrays two people in a complicated and painful love, having injured one another numerous times. Nonetheless, the man is consumed by a true devotional love but aware of the impossibility and pain of this relationship. He sinks into the bosom of the woman while she feels the irresistible urge to cling maddeningly to him, devouring their love but simultaneously is overbearingly hurt and frustrated. Thus, their desperate, hopeless, and painful "union" endures. Munch lays bare this experience of love that some of us have unfortunately experienced.

Anadmaudib wrote on Jun 3, 2001:
When I look at this painting the last thing on my mind is that the woman is a vampire. I see two people embraced, the outside world brushed over, unimportant, and it reminds me of how being in a loved one's arms can feel... But then there's all the black in the work. Maybe the background was blue skies and an event in Munch's life caused him to blacken the work and turn the woman into a 'vampire'? In any case, its highlight is that everyone sees something different in that embrace.

Jason Williamson wrote on May 3, 2001:
Complete Union
This picture shows the unison of the female and the male. Though, at first, one could say that the picture conveys the evil in the female 'feeding' off the male, in a parasitic method. I feel that this is more of a bonding between the two, and that male is submitting to her mystical embrace. The way in which she holds him close to her shows her dependence of him, regardless of her need for the vitae from his body. I feel that this piece ascends Munch's others for it portrays the bonding of the two whilst the other motives of the piece can be observed from further examination.

Thornwell Simons wrote on Apr 20, 2001:
This is my favorite of his works
So much more evocative than "the scream," it seems to marvelously straddle that line between comfort and despair. Beautiful, striking painting.

Jules wrote on Apr 5, 2001:
I think it's interesting how both, the man and the woman, in this painting are consenting. Both people have their arms wrapped around the other; there is no struggle. Just as the woman needs the man to survive - however you'd like to interpret that - the man also needs the woman. He is not trying to escape. The need for the other allows the pain to occur; that same need lets one live while the other dies. Though the title may imply, I don't think that this is a violent painting. It is honest, and sad, and yet somehow beautiful in its sacrifice. How did this situation come to be? ...and how will it end?

punkrockgirl wrote on Dec 22, 2000:
Empty, broken, bleeding
I believe this painting displays our tendency to harm the ones we love. She drains his life because this is her way, she is harming him yet holding him tenderly. He is in pain yet returning that same tenderness. More importantly, I do not believe she is draining blood, but draining love. She drains his heart much like a vampire, leaving him a bent and empty shell, which to some people, is worse than being drained by a stereotypical vampire because when it is all said and done, you are still alive.

Ashley Huckabee wrote on Dec 12, 2000:
The Portrait of Betrayal
Edvard Munch encompassed the sorrow and anger of betrayal of someone you love in his painting "Vampire." The man is nothing but a ragdoll in the arms of the red haired woman, sucking his blood, draining him of his life, yet he wraps his arms around her, because as long as she is killing him, she is paying attention to him, she is needing him, she is wanting him. I believe Munch did an excellent job of displaying so much emotion in one painting, and this is why "Vampire" is my favorite piece by Munch.

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Picture: Edvard Munch: The Frieze of Life.