Sometimes it is impossible to say why and how a work of art achieves its effect. I can stand in front of a painting and become filled with emotions and thoughts, evidently transmitted by the painting, and yet be unable to trace those emotions and thoughts back to it and say, for example, that the sorrow came from the colours, or that the longing came from the brushstrokes, or that the sudden insight that life will end lay in the motif.
One picture I feel this way about was painted by Edvard Munch in 1915. It depicts a cabbage field. The cabbages in the foreground are roughly executed, almost sketch-like, dissolving into green and blue brushstrokes deeper into the background. Next to the cabbage...
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