Gustav Jørgen Pedersen
Marin Heidegger, Edvard Munch, death, modernity, aesthetics, art historical methodology, phenomenology.
Bachelor and Master in Program for Aesthetics from the University of Oslo (2008-2013).
The Ph.D. thesis "On the Pictorial Thinking of Death: A Study in Martin Heidegger’s Unthought Art History of Being Regarding Edvard Munch’s The Sick Child and Metabolism" takes its point of departure in a claim set forth by Stanislaw Przybyszewski in 1894 that the art of Edvard Munch somehow is “almost a painted philosophy.” Based on the questions this claim provokes, the thesis attempts to unfold an art historical approach whereby works of art are not only of significance to, or illustrations of, philosophy, but are themselves something like a painted philosophy – what is suggested to be called a pictorial thinking. Through an investigation of Martin Heidegger’s writings on art, thinking, and the history of being, the thesis suggests that to Heidegger’s philosophy there belongs an unthough art history of being. That is to say, that implied in Heidegger’s philosophy there is a perspective from which works of art can be seen as contributory in shaping the historical transformations of the very basic sense of our understanding of what it means to be.
The thesis is delimited to investigate one possible path opened by this perspective, and returns to one of the most central themes of Munch’s art, namely death. Based on a historical study of a selection of works concerning the nature of death, stretching back to the Archaic and Early Christian periods, the thesis seeks to understand how Munch’s The Sick Child (1885-86) and Metabolism (1898-99) bring into view an understanding of what death is; along with the fundamental historical transformations to which they belong and from which they emerge. Finally, it is argued that the pictorial thinking of death in Munch’s The Sick Child and Metabolism, each in their own way, can be understood as essential contributions to a fundamental transformation of the understanding of what it means to cease to be, and hence, what it means to be.