The reputation of Edvard Munch has long been dominated by one painting, 'The Scream', an icon of modern art and claimed symbol for every conceivable kind of modern horror. Which is why it's interesting that the Munch exhibition at the Kunsthal doesn't include 'The Scream', creating breathing space for a lot of his other work.
Particularly striking and expressionist is his graphic work - sketches, woodcuts and lithographs - done in the last years of the 19th century, including 'Attraction', 'Vampire' and a lithograph done in reds of 'The Sick Child' (1896). A decade earlier he had already painted this scene, in which he now zoomed in on the child's face.
More versions exist of this haunting image of human suffering - quieter and more resigned than 'The Scream', and perhaps more dignified - which Munch himself considered "transformatory" for his later work. As he described it:
My first impression when I saw the sick child -- the pale head with bright red hair against the white pillow -- disappeared as I worked... I had stressed the chair with the glass too much, it distracted from the head. When I examined the picture I saw only the surroundings of the room. Should I eliminate them? ... In a way the head had become the image. Undulating lines appeared in the picture - peripheries - with the head as center... Exhausted, I finally stopped. I had captured my first impression, the trembling lips, the transparent skin, the tired eyes... In The Sick Child I broke new roads, it was a transformation in my art. Most of what I later did was given birth in this picture.