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20th century Self-Portrait in Front of Two Watercolours II. Ekely  c 1930

Published on September 21st, 2016 | by Zuzanna Stanska

Edvard Munch’s Life In Photos

Of course, Edvard Munch is best known for his oils on canvas, but he was also one of the first of the generation of painters who dabbled in amateur photography. When Munch died in 1944, he left 183 photographs in his house. Here we present some of them:

Edvard Munch, "Self-Portrait 'A la Marat' at Dr. Jacobson's Clinic in Copenhagen" (1908-1909)

Edvard Munch, “Self-Portrait ‘A la Marat’ at Dr. Jacobson’s Clinic in Copenhagen” (1908-1909), The Munch Museum, Oslo

The theme of Marat in a bathtub was important for Munch – he compared the history of a French revolutionary leader with his own (which wasn’t exactly comparable, but…). The story of Marat’s murder by Charlotte Corday bears only the remotest resemblance to that of Munch and his long-time lover Tulla Larsen but evidently it was enough for Munch’s symbol-stretching mind. The story of Tulla Larsen is not spectacular – she just left Munch and married his younger colleague.

Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait Naked in the Garden at Asgardstrand, 1903

Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait Naked in the Garden at Asgardstrand, 1903, The Munch Museum, Oslo

Munch’s experimentation with photography began in 1902 when, aged nearly 40, he bought himself one of the most common amateur cameras of the time, a Kodak Bull’s-Eye no. 2. It was a very simple device.

Edvard Munch at the Beach in Warnemünde, 1907, The Munch Museum, Oslo

Edvard Munch at the Beach in Warnemünde, 1907, The Munch Museum, Oslo

To create his photographic self-portraits Munch had to release the shutter button himself, so he had to pose very close to the camera.

Self-Portrait with Rosa Meissner on the beach in Warnemünde, 1907

Self-Portrait with Rosa Meissner on the beach in Warnemünde, 1907, The Munch Museum, Oslo

Some distortions of the photographic picture, along with the use of multiple exposures which we can see for example on the photo with Rosa Meissner , and deliberate blurrings, were part of what drew Munch to photography.

edvard-munch-national-library-of-norway-oslo

Munch saw photography as worthy an art form as painting, and, in an article for the Norwegian magazine Kunst og Kultur, Munch wrote: “mechanical production made by a judicious hand can provide good results.”

Self-Portrait, 1906, The Munch Museum, Oslo

Self-Portrait, 1906, The Munch Museum, Oslo

Munch from the beginning concentrated on self-portraits. These fall into two groups:  those taken inside the studio, posing with his paintings, and those taken outdoors, holding the camera at arm’s length, which now could be called a “classical selfie”.

Edvard Munch in 1926

Edvard Munch in 1926

“I have learned a lot from photography…” said Edvard Munch near the end of his life. After 1926, a new formal mastery can be seen in his self-portraits. It reminds one of the preoccupations of avant-guarde German photography that was then blooming. In those years Munch shot a few short amateur films.

Self-Portrait in Front of Two Watercolours II. Ekely c 1930

Self-Portrait in Front of Two Watercolours II. Ekely c 1930

 

Edvard Munch in his studio at Ekely, 1943

Edvard Munch in his studio at Ekely, 1943

 

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About the Author

Art Historian, huge fan of Giorgione or Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Founder and CEO of DailyArtDaily.com and DailyArt mobile app. But to be honest, her greatest accomplishment is being the owner of Pimpek the Cat.



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