“Self-Portrait Wearing Glasses and Seated Before Two Watercolors” at Ekely, ca. 1930 (Edvard Munch/Courtesy of Munch Museum)
Though his face is perhaps more recognizable when rendered in paint, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch was also interested in using photography for self-portraiture. Among some of the earliest artists in history to turn a camera on himself, Munch was not married to technical form. He experimented with what might be seen as mistakes, such as unusual points of focus, distorted perspective, and using the ghosting effects possible with long exposure times. These effects were visually akin to some of his painting techniques.
Munch’s photographs dated from 1902 to 1910 and from 1927 to the mid-1930s, periods of physical and emotional stress for the artist that included a stay at the private Copenhagen clinic of Dr. Daniel Jacobson for a rest cure. He didn’t intend to exhibit his photographs. “I have an old camera with which I have taken countless pictures of myself, often with amazing results,” Edvard Munch said in 1930. “Some day when I am old, and I have nothing better to do than write my autobiography, all my self-portraits will see the light of day again.”
Edvard Munch and Rosa Meissner in Warnemünde, 1907 (Edvard Munch/Courtesy of Munch Museum)