Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NAKED JULY: Four Versions of Edvard Munch's "Man Bathing"

Here are four versions I found of the same woodcut by Munch. First I tried to put them in order from my favorite to least favorite, but I kept changing my mind and eventually came to the conclusion that each one has aspects I find uniquely captivating, but none captivates me the most in an overall sense.

Looking at these variations has reminded me why I rarely do different color versions from the same block. I look at one of these images and see aspects I enjoy and which evoke a particular response. But then I look at another and see different aspects I enjoy but in a different way. Looking at them all together, comparing and contrasting, I start to lose my sense of how each individual print struck me when I first lay eyes on it.

When there is only one, it is easy to pretend that it is pristine and brilliant in conception and execution. That it could only ever say what it is saying right now. That the muse has inspired some Very Important Message. Variations on a theme expose the artist as more of a seeker than a prophet. They display the versatility of the composition, and inevitably also its limitations (and by extension, the artist's mere mortal status.)

To put it more briefly, I avoid doing variations from the same block because I'm a coward.


  1. I love Munch. Thank you for including these pieces.

  2. Great, and humorous analysis of the Very Important Message style of art (this used to be called The Academy). In the end I think most artists are seekers not prophets but maybe I speak only for myself. Either way it's nice to see these image and your writing on them.

  3. Great and interesting post. I would add 'lazy' along with 'coward' in my own case.