The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm

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The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm

Norwegian painter and artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was one of the first artists to take “selfies”. He was a distinctive photographer, and in 1902 he bought his first camera. He used photography as an experimental medium, often placing himself in front of the lens. In his photographs, he often explored the effect of apparent “errors” such as distortions, blurry movements and unusual camera angles. Now, you can experience the experimental self of Edvard Munch at the Thiel Gallery in Stockholm

Edvard Munch pursued photography as an experimental medium and himself as an experimental subject. The unexpected areas of blank, disunified, or undefined form and shadows that replace living bodies mirrored his formal strategies in painting and graphic works. An amateur, he did not exhibit his photographs. Munch’s photographs have been dated to two periods, 1902 to 1910 and 1927 to the mid-1930s.

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm
Self-portrait ”à la Marat” by the bathtub at dr Jacobsons clinic, Copenhagen, 1908-09. Photo: Edvard Munch. Munchmuseet, Oslo

Related: The Edvard Munch Collection Out Of The Vaults in Oslo

Edvard Munch’s ‘selfies’
The investigative and poetic pictures show the artist himself and his immediate surroundings: “selfies” from the nerve clinic, the beach or the garden in his home outside Oslo. Munch took up photography in 1902, the year in which he and his lover Tulla Larsen ended a long relationship with a pistol shot that mutilated one of the artist’s fingers. This event, and an accelerated career, triggered a period of increasing emotional turmoil that culminated in a rest cure in the private Copenhagen clinic of Dr. Daniel Jacobson in 1908-1909.

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm
Edvard Munch sitting on his suitcase in his studio at Lützowstrasse 82, Berlin, 1902

At that time, industrialist and art collector Ernest Thiel was one of Munch’s most important supporters, and he acquired a large collection of Munch’s works at the Thiel Gallery. The second period of activity, from 1927 into the mid-1930s, was bracketed by triumphant retrospective exhibitions in Berlin and Oslo. A hemorrhage in Munch’s right eye, temporarily impairing his vision, ended several photo-experiments.

Related: The Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo On The Move

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm
Edvard Munch paining on the beach in Warnemünde, 1907. Photo: Edvard Munch. Munchmuseet, Oslo

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm
The exhibition «Edvard Munch’s photographs. The experimental chase” is produced by The American Scandinavian Foundation/Scandinavia House, New York in collaboration with Munchmuseet, Oslo. The exhibition at Thiel Gallery in Stockholm runs until 31 May 2020.

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm
Edvard Munch, Self-portrait, 1895, lithography. The Thiel Gallery

Related: Edvard Munch Through The Eyes of Andy Warhol

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm
Edvard Munch, Evening, 1902, wood cut. The Thiel Gallery

The exhibition, aims to show a part of Munch’s work that is unknown to many, but was an obvious part of his artistic work. The exhibition contains around 50 photographs provided by the Munch Museum after Edvard Munch’s own originals. A selection of Edvard Munch’s graphic prints, taken from the Thiel Gallery’s own collection, are displayed together with the borrowed photographs. The exhibition is curated by art historian Dr Patricia Berman.

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm
Edvard Munch, The sick child, 1896, lithography. The Thiel Gallery

Feature image (on top): Edvard Munch, wearing glasses, in front of two watercolours, Ekely, ca 1930. Photo: Edvard Munch. Munchmuseet, Oslo

The Experimental Self of Edvard Munch in Stockholm is based on a press release from the Munch Museum in Oslo

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