Munch, Edvard (Norwegian, 1863-1944)

Sleepless Night. Self-Portrait in Inner Turmoil

Reference Type:
As Edvard Munch grew older, he created a number of self-portraits that reflect both his physical and psychological states. Although in this image there is no indication of what specifically might be causing the “inner turmoil” mentioned in the title, his agitation is artistically expressed in a number of ways. First of all, through his body: his hair is disheveled; his brow is furrowed and mouth slightly open; his eyes look down at the floor; his hands, which are barely painted, clasp his clothing; and he seems to have been taking a step forward but then stopped, leaving him standing in an awkward and restless pose. His surroundings are also unsettled. The floor creates a feeling of imbalance as it inclines up toward the window in the background and slants down in the foreground. Perspectives are mixed as well—we look straight on at the artist, slightly upwards into the next room, and down on the table of art supplies. In addition, the entire scene is created with energetic and restless brushstrokes that leave some areas unfinished, as if the artist were too uneasy to make things solid. Notes by Mariann Smith
Munch Museum, Oslo