Between Clock and Bed (1940-1943) is a painting by the Norwegian Expressionist and Symbolist artist Edvard Munch (1963-1944). The painting is a self-portrait, and reflects concepts of death and mortality. It is currently located in the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway.
What is Depicted in Between Clock and Bed?
In the foreground, there is a bed, in the middle ground, Edvard Munch, and in the background a wall full of paintings and a tall grandfather clock. The dark, somber blue upon Munch contrasts with the yellow and white background. Munch stands still, erect, his face staring outward towards the viewer.
The tight framing of the room and the dramatic lighting can be compared to a theatrical set. Munch constructed such sets in 1906 for several Berlin productions. There are painterly brushstrokes throughout the painting which emphasize the act of painting itself. The grandfather clock represents a coffin, and the bed represents a sarcophagus. The grandfather clock contains no hands or face because it is supposed to represent the timespan of one´s life. Munch´s, selfportrait made in his old age, reflects upon mortality and earlier artistic motifs. Munch made artistic self-portraits throughout his life that occurred frequently and with intensity after 1900. From 1940 onwards his self-portraits focused solely upon his own mortality. The bed is covered with a rug from his childhood. Munch spent most of his childhood in sickness. For example, Munch stated, ¨My youth was spent in a sick-bed and my life was a brightly lit window. ¨
What is the meaning of Between Clock and Bed?
Munch stands between the grandfather clock and the bed waiting for his own mortality. Behind Munch is a studio that contains his artwork, a typical painting topic throughout history. Hanging on the wall next to Munch is a nude portrait of Kropotkaya, a heroine in Dostoevsky’s novel A Gentle Creature. Munch views Kropotkaya as ¨represent(ing) the escape of the free spirit from humiliating poverty¨ which he experienced earlier in life¨. In this novel Korpotkaya marries a pawnbroker to get out of her dire financial situation, but the relationship ends in arguments. She falls in love with another man and commits suicide. Munch looked to evoke inner emotions within his material representations. The bright yellow studio is the immediate focal point of Between Clock and Bed (1940-1943), but the double doors lead to a much grimmer reality that suggest mortality, death, and sickness.
- Berman, Patricia. G., Morehead, Allison, Shiff, Richard. And Stein Mille. Edvard Munch Between Clock and Bed. (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017).
- Blythe, Frances. ¨Edvard Munch : Between Clock and Bed.¨ CAA Reviews. (College Art Association, 2019).
- Dostoevsky, Fyodor. A Gentle Creature. (Adelphi Press). 2018.
- Garrels, Gary. ¨Between the Clock and the Bed.¨ Publisher´s Weekly, 264. No. 27. (2017).
- Harris, JC. ¨Munch´s Self Portrait Between Clock and Bed.” JAMA Psychiatry, 70, no.4 .
- American Medical Association. 2013. 359.
-  Berman, Patricia. G., Morehead, Allison, Shiff, Richard. And Stein Mille. Edvard Munch Between Clock and Bed. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2017.
-  JC Harris. ¨Munch´s Self Portrait Between Clock and Bed.” JAMA Psychiatry, 70, no.4 . American Medical Association. 2013. 359.
-  Frances. Blythe. ¨Edvard Munch : Between Clock and Bed.¨ CAA Reviews. College Art Association.