After a mental breakdown that he suffered in 1908, Munch’s subsequent recovery set off a distinguishable change in his art: his paintings of the following period are characterized by the use of strong colors, a focus on lighter subject matter and a bright atmosphere. Badende på svaberg (Bathers on Rocks) exemplifies the “vitalism” of Munch’s later career, when he discovered a new interest in the corporeal. This liberation from the emotional and the spiritual resulted in a number of paintings depicting nude figures swimming or sunbathing. The dazzling light of the present composition brings the group of bathers into harmony with the surrounding environment. Far from the starkness of his winter landscapes, this scene conveys the vivid light and rich colors that Munch found on the beaches of Hvitsten. This period too was marked by Munch's exposure to Cubism which can be seen in the more marked angularity of his compositions from this period.
Discussing Munch’s paintings of Hvitsten, Arne Eggum wrote: "Swimming in the sea and sunbathing provide one of the main themes from Hvitsten. On the sun-drenched rocks.... below the dwelling-house Munch painted a series of pictures, some of naked men, others of naked women, in the brilliant sunlight. The paintings from Hvitsten become lighter in their expression, the palette freer, while the light fuses scenery and people together to form a single entity” (A. Eggum, Edvard Munch, New York, 1983, pp. 248-49).
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