Munch – “The Yawning Girl”

The Girl Yawning is a 1913 painting by Edvard Munch. It depicts an almost nude woman sitting on the edge of the bed, ready to rise, in typical Munch expressionist manner. Her mouth is wide open: she yawns after sleeping. The left leg is slightly raised – this is either a desire to warm up, or an unconscious subconscious reflex.

The composition of the painting “Yawning Girl” is very reminiscent of the composition of the artist’s early work “Ripening”, written in 1894, but in many respects differs from it in mood. The fear depicted in the form of a huge shadow behind the girl sitting on the bed in a twenty-year-old painting has been replaced by calmness and relaxation. The shadows painted by the author no longer pose threats and do not frighten either the viewer or the main character of the canvas.

Nude models from this period of the artist’s work are full of expression and sensuality. Edvard Munch achieves this effect with a chaotic, unbridled overlay of colors. According to some researchers of the Norwegian artist’s work, this makes his paintings related to the works of the Fauves, especially the works of Henri Matisse. The chaotic, restless coloring of The Yawning Girl is offset by the solid composition of the work that controls the whole image. As is often the case with Munch, the composition is built at the intersection of the horizontal and the vertical (bed and model), forming a symbolic cross.

Of course, there is nothing easy in the mood of the picture “Yawning Girl”. Her yawn as if at any moment can turn into a scream. The table depicted on the right side of the canvas not only emphasizes the compositional horizontal: it recognizes the decoration of the room in the 1886 painting “Sick Girl”.

Year of painting: 1913.

The dimensions of the painting are 110 x 100 cm.

Material: canvas.

Writing technique: oil.

Genre: genre painting.

Style: expressionism.

Gallery: Collection of Rolf Stenersen, Bergen, Norway.

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