Edvard Munch: “Between the Clock and the Bed”

Sep 5, 2018


Self-portrait of Edvard Munch in the last year of his life, “Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940–1943”
Credit Sandy Brown Jensen

This is Sandy Brown Jensen, and today Viz City, KLCC’s Arts Review Program, is in Oslo, Norway,  at the Edvard Munch Museum at a big traveling, international show called “Between the Clock and the Bed.”

You know who Munch is: he painted The Scream in 1893. He said, “I was walking along the road with two friends. Then the sun went down. The sky suddenly turned to blood, and I felt a great Scream in nature.”

Across one version of The Scream, he wrote, “could only have been painted by a madman.”

Munch painfully overcame both mental illness and alcoholism to live a long life, painting every day, so we have 1700 of his paintings and hundreds more drawings.

What I love in the paintings in this show is his forceful brushstrokes and oil paint so thinned out it drips like watercolor.

But his subject matter fascinates me, too. Munch saw the shadows of death, the shadows of strong emotions, the shadowy demons that haunt alcoholics, the long shadows of both past and future.

“...the shadowy demons that haunt alcoholics, the long shadows of both past and future.” Munch did many paintings such as this “Self-Portait with a Wine Bottle,” which has shadowy figures lurking in the background.
Credit Sandy Brown Jensen

For example, in a painting of a nude young girl sitting on a bed called “Puberty,” a huge shadow on the wall suggests a looming future for herself as a woman, and judging by the half-frightened look on her face, it isn’t going to be all roses.

Edvard Munch, “Puberty,” 1894-5
Credit Sandy Brown Jensen

These shadows are everywhere for the viewer to look into and recognize. Munch’s close to last painting, “Between the Clock and the Bed,” has a grandfather clock with no hands, no time, and an old man—a self-portrait—balanced in that moment of between the world of time and no time, life and death.

Viz City is co-produced by Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen.