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Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed

Garrels, Gary, Jon-Ove Steihaug, and Sheena Wagstaff, editors; preface by Karl Ove Knausgaard; essays by Patricia G. Berman, Allison Morehead, Richard Shiff, and Mille Stein
152 pages
105 illustrations
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In Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed, the elderly Edvard Munch stands like a sentinel in his bedroom/studio surrounded by the works that constitute his artistic legacy. A powerful meditation on art, mortality, and the ravages of time, this haunting painting conjures up the Norwegian master’s entire career. It also calls into question certain long-held myths surrounding Munch—that his work declined in quality after his nervous breakdown in 1908–9, that he was a commercially naive social outsider, and that he had only a limited role in the development of European modernism.

The present volume aims to rebut such misconceptions by freshly examining this enigmatic artist. In the preface, the renowned novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard considers Munch as a fellow creative artist and seeks to illuminate the source of his distinctive talent. The four groundbreaking essays that follow present numerous surprising insights on matters ranging from Munch’s radical approach to self-portraiture to his role in promoting his own career. They also reveal that Munch has been an abiding inspiration to fellow painters, both during his lifetime and up to the present; artists as varied as Jasper Johns, Bridget Riley, Asger Jorn, and Georg Baselitz have acknowledged his influence.

More than sixty of Munch’s paintings, dating from the beginning of his career in the early 1880s to his death in 1944, are accompanied by a generous selection of comparative illustrations and a chronology of the artist’s life. The result is an intimate, provocative study that casts new light on Munch’s unique oeuvre—an oeuvre that Knausgaard describes as having gone “where only a painting can go, to that which is beyond words, but which is still part of our reality.”

View Citations

Garrels, Gary, Jon-Ove Steihaug, Sheena Wagstaff, and Karl Ove Knausgård. 2017. Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed [Exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from June 24 through October 9, 2017, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from November 14, 2017 through February 4, 2018, and the Munch Museum, Oslo, from May 12 through September 9, 2018]. New York New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art Yale University Press.