The Experimental Self: Edvard Munch Photography Returns to NY's Scandinavia House

  • December 01, 2021 10:32

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Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait at the Breakfast Table at Dr. Jacobson’s Clinic, 1908-1909. Original: Gelatin silver contact print. Courtesy of Munch Museum
Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait ‘à la Marat,’ Beside a Bathtub at Dr. Jacobson’s Clinic, 1908-09. Original: Gelatin silver contact print. Courtesy of Munch Museum
Edvard Munch, Nurse in Black, Jacobson’s Clinic, 1908-09. Original: Preserved negative. Courtesy of Munch Museum
Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait on Beach with Brushes and Palette in Warnemünde, 1907. Original: Collodion contact print. Courtesy of Munch Museum
Edvard Munch, Munch’s Dog ‘Fips’, 1930. Original: Gelatin silver contact print. Courtesy of Munch Museum

The Experimental Self: Edvard Munch’s Photography, an exhibition organized by American-Scandinavian Foundation with The Munch Museum in Oslo that first brought the photographic work of the master painter to NYC in 2017/18 before traveling worldwide, returns to Scandinavia House (58 Park Ave., NY) this winter with a newly conceived design and a section including vintage camera equipment alongside the release of the 2020 illustrated book The Experimental Self: The Photography of Edvard Munch, awarded with diploma as one of The Year’s Most Beautiful Books, 2021 by Grafill, Norway's National Organization for Visual Communication.

Internationally celebrated for his paintings, prints, and watercolors, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944) also took photographs. In 2017/18, the exhibition The Experimental Self: Edvard Munch’s Photography at Scandinavia House drew widespread acclaim for introducing audiences to his photographic and film work, emphasizing the artist’s experimentalism and examining his exploration of the camera as an expressive medium. This exhibition includes Munch’s experimental portraiture of friends and family as well as his self-portraiture, including images from what he termed his “Fatal Destiny” portfolio, staged between 1902 and 1908. By probing and exploiting the dynamics of “faulty” practice, such as distortion, blurred motion, eccentric camera angles, and other photographic “mistakes,” Munch photographed himself and his immediate environment in ways that rendered them poetic. In both still images and in his few forays with a hand-held moving-picture camera, Munch not only archived images, but invented them. As a recent Financial Times Magazine review of the works states, “Munch’s mercurial snapshots trace the survival of an artist obsessed with loss… his photographs remain tantalisingly opaque a century on.”

Having since traveled to eight venues worldwide, including Seattle, Oslo, Stockholm, Fredrikssund (Denmark), and Bergen, the exhibition will be returning to Scandinavia House beginning December 10 in a new iteration, including photographic enlargements and a display of the amateur camera models similar to those he used in his work.

The exhibition will also feature a “selfie station” for visitors to interact with Edvard Munch’s experimental self-portraiture, as well as the opportunity to browse the new publication, which includes 120 fully illustrated pages alongside essays by curator Patricia G. Berman, Tom Gunning and MaryClaire Pappas, available for purchase in the Shop. On loan from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, the approximately 50 copy prints in the exhibition and a continuous projection of Munch’s films will be accompanied by contextualizing didactic panels as well as a video presentation. 

Edward Gallagher, President of American-Scandinavian Foundation, has stated: “All of us at Scandinavia House are delighted to be reopening our Galleries after 20 months of closure due to the pandemic. This transitional period has offered the opportunity to take a fresh look at this exhibition, which provides a unique and arresting slant on the work and creative process of Edvard Munch, and enables us now to celebrate the publication of the complementary volume and the opening of the new Munch Museum in Oslo.”

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