Self-portrait after the Spanish Flu is a painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch from 1919. The painting is part of Munch’s series of works that reflect on his experience with the Spanish Flu, which was a deadly pandemic that swept through Europe and other parts of the world during 1918-19. Munch created other works about this mild but highly contagious illness, including Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu.
In this self-portrait, Munch depicts himself sitting in a wicker chair in front of an unmade bed. His pale face and haggard expression suggest he is still recovering from his bout with the flu. The painting’s muted color scheme conveys a sense of melancholy and sadness that seems to permeate many of Munch’s works.
Munch had a long-standing preoccupation with death, sickness, and melancholy throughout his career. His use of color to convey mood and emotion was groundbreaking at the time, heavily influencing later Expressionist artists such as Max Beckmann and Emil Nolde. Overall, Self-portrait after the Spanish Flu is an excellent example of how art can be used to evoke complex emotions related to illness and mortality.
Overall, Self-portrait after the Spanish Flu is a poignant depiction of Edvard Munch’s experience during this seminal period in world history. The painting serves as both an artistic representation of suffering during the outbreak and reinforces its nihilism regarding apocalyptic visions that affected millions across Europe as well as shining light on how pandemics can impact art movements for centuries thereafter.