Since the robbery of the Munch Museum on 22 August 2004, the museum has been closed for security improvements and reconstruction, but on 18 June the museum reopened to the public with the exhibition Munch by Himself, a comprehensive presentation of Edvard Munch’s self-portraits
28/06/2005 :: Few artists have scrutinised themselves as mercilessly and intensely as Edvard Munch. Between the start of his career in the 1880s and his death in 1944, he produced a great number of self portraits, including more than 70 paintings and some 20 in various graphic media, in addition to over a hundred watercolours, drawings and studies.
In his self-portraits, Munch examines his role as an artist, his relationship with the world around him and his position as an outsider. In these pictures he lays bare his existential angst and explores his feelings about life and death, love, masculinity, femininity and sexuality. Throughout the second half of his life, Munch was obsessed with loneliness and disease, and towards the end of his life his works increasingly reflect his preoccupation with ageing and death.
Most of these self-portraits were never exhibited during Munch’s lifetime. Some of these works were shown in 1945 and 1963 as parts of larger exhibitions, and some have been exhibited individually on a number of occasions. Munch by Himself offers the first critical and comprehensive study of Munch’s artistic exploration of his own identity.
This exhibition of the artist’s self-portraits is thus the most wide-ranging ever mounted. Dr Iris Müller-Westermann at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, who holds a doctorate in this subject, is the curator of the exhibition. It has already been shown in Stockholm, and after Oslo it will move on to the Royal Academy of Arts in London.