When Munch died in 1944 at the age of 80, he left around 1,150 paintings, 17,800 prints, 4,500 watercolors, 13 sculptures, a stash of drawings, and the contents of his Norwegian studio to the city of Oslo. This massive trove included several of Munch’s masterpieces, as well as the paints and brushes he used to make them.
While Munch’s canvases are regularly on view in museums around the world, his materials rarely see the light of day, due to their inherent fragility. Photo documentation of the tools isn’t readily available to the public, either. Up until now, the only visual evidence of Munch’s process online has existed in several grainy, black-and-white photos of his studio. In one, Munch stands next to an easel, sporting a suit and winter hat while sucking on a pipe. Next to him, nestled in a clump of snow on the floor, a brush sits at-the-ready, submerged in a bucket of paint.
Starting last year, Adobe and the Munch Museum set out to give Photoshop and Sketch users a first-hand understanding of the artist’s process. Their approach was unorthodox and unprecedented: Transform Munch’s age-old brushes into digital mark-making tools. When taken up by Photoshop- and Sketch-savvy millennials, the brushes would have the ability to imitate the artist’s strokes.