"The camera cannot compete with the brush and the palette so long as it cannot be used in heaven or hell," observed Edvard Munch in one of his better-known aphorisms. Although the artist himself never regarded the camera as a competitor to his brush, he nevertheless made use of it throughout his career in various ways.
Munch himself was the most important subject of his photographs. In his self-portraits he sometimes appears as a transparent shadow, an effect caused by moving from his pose to cover the lens of the camera. This feature is typical of a series of self-portraits taken by Munch in 1908-1909, which he called "photographs of fate".
The artist had thus discovered a way to merge into his surroundings. The room and everything around the subject blend into a whole in a silent, melancholy manner. The photograph is no longer a fleeting moment in time but a medium of meditation. Munch did not capture the moment in his photographs, but let time flow into them in a unique way.
He went to make a long series of self-portraits in the 1920s and '30s, observing that "when I grow old some day, and have nothing better to do than to write my autobiography, all my self-portraits will come to light".
After Edvard Munch's death a large collection of his works was donated to the City of Oslo to become the Munch Museum. The photographic self-portraits came to light in this connection and have now became a recognized part of the art of photography.