Norway – Cloud Walker

Munch Mix

Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is famous for his masterpiece, The Scream. Let’s take a look at the man and what drove him to create such a haunting image, which is universally appreciated and an icon of Norway:

Munch was born on Decmber 12, 1863 in Löten, Norway, the second of five children. Tragedy seemed to follow the Munch family. When Edvard was very young, his mother died from tuberculosis, followed by one of his sisters. Another sister was troubled with mental illness issues and committed to an asylum in her teens and a brother died young after a bout of pneumonia. Munch, himself, suffered from mental health issues, which were exacerbated by alcoholism. The artist spent periods of time in a private sanitarium.

the-scream-grumpy-cat

After originally studying to be an engineer, Munch left school to pursue art, which he did at the Royal School of Art and Design, starting in 1881. From there, he rented a studio with six other artists, with the intention of creating an exhibition. Munch specialized in Expressionism and some historians believe he was the father of the movement, before it took off in the early 1900’s.

Munch’s first major work was called The Sick Child and illustrated the death of his sister. It was also based on times he visited ill patients with his father, who was a doctor. When it was first unveiled, the painting drew harsh criticism, with many detractors claiming the piece was unfinished. Munch made six copies of the painting, which reside in galleries around the world.

After moving to France in 1889, Munch got down to business, creating a number of pieces based on feelings for the 1902 Berlin Exhibition. These works included Despair, Melancholy, Anxiety, and Jealousy. Munch’s claim to fame, The Scream, was also created during this period. It is actually based on a real location in Ekeberg, Norway. With Oslo pictured faintly in the background, past the safety railing and down the hill was the sanitarium which housed Munch’s sister. There was also a slaughterhouse nearby and it’s claimed that screams could be heard emanating from both buildings.

The Scream Cat

There are four versions of the famous image. One hangs in the Norwegian National Gallery, one in the Munch Museum, and pastel and lithograph varieties also exist. The National Gallery’s version of The Scream was stolen in 1994 on the opening day of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, with the two male burglars leaving behind a note that read: “Thanks for the poor security.” The National Gallery refused to pay a $1 million ransom for the piece and a police sting operation recovered the painting a few months later, as well as procuring convictions against four men that were later overturned.

The Scream was also one of two pieces stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway in 2004. Masked gunmen nabbed The Scream, as well as Munch’s ‘Madonna’. The work suffered some damage before it was recovered in 2006. The piece was put on display for a short time, with damage and all, before disappearing for restoration work. It finally returned to being on display again in 2008. In all, six men were arrested in connection with the theft.

In 2012, The Scream sold for $120 million U.S., breaking the record previously set by Pablo Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” which went for $106.5 million U.S. in 2010. The piece went up in value because the frame is also painted by Munch and includes a poem describing his motivation for creating it. Bidding began at a mere $40 million, with the auction lasting more than 12 minutes.

the-scream movie

The Scream has found its way into numerous avenues of popular culture. It was the inspiration for Ghostface’s mask for the Scream movie franchise, which is known the world over. Pop artist Andy Warhol recreated the piece as a silk print, which became quite famous. It was also chosen by the Norwegian Postal Service as one of four Munch works to be turned into stamps. Imaging getting a letter with that haunting face staring back at you. No wonder so many Scandinavians go crazy!

In 1938, The Nazi’s declared Munch’s catalogue of work “degenerate art” and removed his collections from German galleries, putting them up for auction. Norwegian art dealer Harald Holst Halvorsen (the original Triple H) nabbed as many of the pieces as he could to return them to their homeland. Halvorsen then distributed some of the pieces to other parts of the continent, based on discussions he had with Munch and Munch’s desire for recognition in other parts of Europe.

Munch moved to Ekely, Norway and chose to live mostly in isolation, where he died on January 23, 1944, aged 81. He enjoyed painting the landscape and farm life in his twilight years, but perhaps more importantly, he did a fair bit of work on nude paintings with a slew of female models, some of which he likely had relationships with. Now, that is the mark of a true master!

Norway: Cloud Walker

Cloud Walker Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cloudberry Liqueur
  • 0.75 oz Whiskey or Bourbon
  • Top with Lemonade
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

I must admit, that as I did research for this article, I was able to appreciate The Scream and other works by Munch more. Sadly, when the Sip Syndicate visited Oslo and tried to visit the Munch Museum, the place was closed. We all screamed in agony and then went to drown our sorrows at a nearby bar!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Lemonade goes so well with Whiskeys and Bourbons. Luckily I’ve been around recently when a couple friends have had doubts to that. The Cloudberry Liqueur is the icing on this classic southern recipe cake and this was a wonderful cocktail which I will serve again in the future!

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Norway – Kitten Cuddler

Raid and Pillage

The Vikings have a badass reputation and frankly, it’s well deserved. Many of these figures, hailing from Scandinavia and particularly Norway, have rap sheets that would make a writer for Game of Thrones light up, as it opens new doors to wrath and associated violence. Let’s take a look at the exploits of some of the greatest Vikings:

Erik the Red

Erik the Red’s early life was built around repeatedly being exiled after committing murder. Therefore, he created his own Viking colony on what is now Greenland, which he also discovered. There, Erik the Red was free to do whatever he wanted. Although bloodshed is largely associated with Erik, his nickname ‘The Red’ more likely referred to his hair and beard. He was father to other Viking notables, explorer Leif Eriksson and warrior princess (not Xena) Freydis Eriksdottir.

Vikings-Give Up

Ragnar Lodbrok

In order to prove he was a badass to a princess, Lodbrok demolished a horde of invading poisonous snakes. Karma caught up to him eventually, though, as he was executed by being thrown into a pit of serpents. Although Lodbrok’s actual existence has been questioned, he was said to be father to other legendary Vikings, including Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Ivar Ragnarsson.

Ivar Ragnarsson

Speaking of the devil, Ivar was a ruthless warrior who used captured kings as playthings, expending them for target practice and other horrific executions. Ivar’s nickname, ‘The Boneless,’ was thought to refer to anything from an ailment causing his bones to break easily, to being impotent, to being incredibly flexible. Regardless, Ivar ruled parts of what is now Denmark and Sweden, as well as Dublin.

Leif Eriksson

Eriksson is most notable for discovering North America (500 years before Christopher Columbus), although the finding was likely accidental. He had meant to return to Norway, but his ship was blown off course towards modern day Canada. Eriksson was more of an explorer and not a Viking in the classic raid and pillage sense. He was said to be quite intelligent, while also possessing the strong frame of a typical Viking. The U.S. even celebrates Leif Eriksson Day every October 9th!

Vikings Pillaged

Eric Haraldsson

Eric had a thirst for blood and power, even killing his own brothers to become King of Norway. This earned him the moniker, Eric Bloodaxe. His reign over the Norwegian kingdom was short-lived, however, as one remaining broski returned and overthrew Eric, who had angered many of the nobility with his ruling tactics. Eric turned his attention to Northumbria and became king there, before dying in battle.

Sweyn Forkbeard

Forkbeard first came to prominence by going to war with his own father and emerging as the King of Denmark, upon being victorious. Following that, it seemed he held a major grudge against England, attacking them repeatedly over the rest of his life and even ruling the realm for a time. His anger towards England was thought to be based on his sister dying during the kingdom’s massacre of Danish citizens. Forkbeard also invaded Norway and divided up the country with his allies.

Vikings Fight

Harald Hardrada

While exiled from Norway, Hardrada became leader of the Byzantine emperor’s Varangian Guard. When he returned to Norway, he fought to become king. Hardrada means “Hard Ruler,” a name he received for his constant wars and harsh reign. Hardrada believed he had a claim to the throne of England, upon the death of that king, and died in battle, after being shot in the throat with an arrow, trying to make good on his perceived right.

Egil Skallagrimsson

Skallagrimsson was both a warrior and a poet, covering every aspect that makes a lady swoon (not to mention the namesake of an Icelandic brewery!). He is said to have written his first works at the young age of three, but also killed for the first time at seven years old. When the Norwegian king grew tired of Skallagrimsson’s exploits, he was exiled and began his years of terror, amassing a fortune and high kill count. He even murdered the slave who helped him bury his treasure.

Norway: Kitten Cuddler

Kitten Cuddler Cocktail

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Crème de Bananes
  • 0.5 oz Cloudberry Liqueur
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Splash of Apple Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

I wonder what my Viking nickname would have been. I’m thinking Word Whisperer sounds alright, but I’d hope my contemporaries would incorporate my legendary boozing into the moniker and call me something like Liquor Leviathan!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
Cloudberry Liqueur is made from berries found in Norway. This is quite the complex recipe, but it is totally worth the intricate construction. I think the cocktail name is quite funny in contrast to the article it’s combined with… kitten cuddlers and raiding and pillaging Vikings don’t really go hand-in-hand. I topped this cocktail with my Bols Banana Liqueur foam and it was a perfect touch to the drink.