Art Styles in 20th century Art Map


Edvard Munch






The portraitist

Closer to the style of his landscapes, and, like them, richer in color, is the new portrait of his sister Laura (Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo) that Munch painted around 1900 under the title (repeated on several occasions) of Melancholia. The girl is seated idly in front of a table on which stands a pot of flowers. Her back is toward the windows of the room, and her gaze is fixed on a dream that is fascinating her, and which, translated through the medium of her face, fascinates us in turn, just as we are overwhelmed by the very prostration Laura seems to be distractedly suffering because of her solitude.
In the large full-length portraits painted in the early years of this century, Munch sometimes reflects of Manet, for whom he had acquired a profound admiration in Paris. Solidly built up and broadly painted, they express the model's character with great perspicacity. «I am able to see the person behind the mask,» Munch stated. In 1901 he painted the portraits Hermann Schlittgen and Monsieur Archimard also known, respectively, as The German and The Frenchman. In 1903 he did two female portraits — Aase Noerregaard and The Actress Ingse Vibe Muller. These were followed in 1904 by Max Linde and Count Kessler, the latter a bust view in front of the count's library.




Self-Portrait with a Wine Bottle




Woman in Blue (Frau Barth)




Two years later Munch painted two other portraits of this German Maecenas who, in 1908, took Maillol to Greece, a trip from which the sculptor derived tremendous educational benefits.
The year of 1904 is also the year of a new Self-Portrait in which the painter appears dressed in an elegant frock coat and holding his brushes in his hand. In 1905 he made an etching of Gustav Schiefler, the man who in 1923 was to publish in Dresden a major book on Munch's graphic work. Nietzsche and Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche were the chief portraits of 1906, Ernest Thiel and Walter Rathenau those of 1907. With the exception of Mr. Archimard, the painter's patrons were almost all German or Norwegian.
Nearly all these portraits are treated in the same vigorous style that at the time must have seemed reasonably «modernistic.» In 1907 he began a series of nudes in a more daring style, in which he seems to return, in a very personal manner, to an Impressionist vision. In Consolation (in which a man holds a weeping woman in his arms), Amor and Psyche, and the strange Marat's Death (in which a nude woman stands in front of a death bed), the entire canvas is painted with long, vertical, very visible strokes and juxtaposed colors that give the sensation of a vibration of light, as is sometimes seen (but with less systematic application) in some of Toulouse-Lautrec's oil paintings on cardboard, particularly in his Woman with Black Boa and Woman with Gloves. In general, however, Munch's studies of nudes, which became quite numerous at this period, cannot be ranked among his best works.




Karl Jensen-Hjell



Henry Kessler



Harry Graf Kessler








Walter Rathenau




Cuatro ninas en Aasgaardstrand



Birgitte Prestoe



Birgitte Prestoe


Portrait of Aase and Harald Norregaard








He is more interesting when he permits his ideas on the nature of woman to appear through his engravings and lithographs. Munch, who lived in an age in which women still kept their long hair, always saw in it both an attribute of their beauty and a dangerous instrument of seduction in which men are trapped as in a net. The drawing entitled The Kiss of Death, in which a death's head embraces a woman whose long hair is entwined around its skeletal neck, is an extremely violent expression of his pessimistic vision. In less macabre fashion, The Vampire (1894) and Sin (1901) are symbolized by women with long red hair falling over their shoulders. This is consistent with the fact that Munch was always strongly attracted to red-haired women. We shall later examine a particular case in which this attraction was reversed, in his behavior, into flight.








In a series of lithographs done in 1896, Attraction I, Attraction II, Liberation I, and Liberation II, woman's hair seems to embody in concrete form the emotional bond that is created or broken between man and woman. In Attraction they are facing each other, and the woman's long hair envelops the man's shoulders. Liberation brings a certain distance between the two beings; they turn their backs on each
other, but the now unusually long hair crosses this space horizontally and breaks loose from the man's shoulders. These images can be compared with a color woodcut of the same year entitled Mans Head Entangled in a Woman's Hair and a lithograph, also of 1896, entitled Lovers in the Waves, in which the man's head rests on the shoulder of a woman whose hair, floating over the waves, follows their undulating movement.
In moments of more serene sensuality, the long, flowing locks merely participate in the idealization of the beloved woman. When in 1903 Munch did the portrait of the English violinist Eva Mudocci, entitled Madonna — the Brooch and one of his most beautiful lithographs, he drew her luminous face, framed in the black flood of her hair, with visible love. She appears again in The Violin Concert, drawn with the same admiring tenderness. Suddenly, however, she is identified with her criminal sisters in a lithograph in which the head of Munch himself rests on the shoulder of the violinist, whose hair falls over the painter's forehead. The title of the print, Salome, makes its meaning abundantly clear.




Attraction I




Liberation I








Lovers in the Waves




Madonna — the Brooch




Salome (Eva Mudocci and Munch)



Rose and Amelie

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