Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was one of the first artists to take “selfies.” He pursued photography as an experimental medium and himself as an experimental subject. "The experimental self. Edvard Munch's photography" presentes a wide selection of photographs and films by Munch.
I have an old camera with which I have taken countless pictures of myself, often with amazing results (…) 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, 1930)
In February 1902, Munch purchased his first camera. An amateur, he did not exhibit his photographs. He explored the dynamics of layered imagery; unexpected areas of blank, disunified, or undefined form; and shadows that replace living bodies. These effects mirrored his formal strategies in painting and graphic works. He also experimented with film. Munch’s fascination with the formal effects of time and motion in his photography are played out with humor and deliberation in his few forays into motion pictures. The results are poetic representations of Munch himself and his immediate surroundings.
Munch’s photographs have been dated to two periods. Munch took up photography in 1902, the year in which he and his lover Tulla Larsen ended a multi-year 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 second period of activity, from 1927 into the mid-1930s, was bracketed by triumphant retrospective exhibitions in Berlin and Oslo and by a hemorrhage in Munch’s right eye, temporarily impairing his vision. This was also the time that Munch tried his hand at home movies.