Edvard Munch (Norwegian, Løten 1863–1944 Ekely), Self-Portrait with Wounded Eye, ca. 1930. Charcoal and oil (and lithographic chalk?) on canvas, 35 7/16 × 28 3/8 in. (90 × 72 cm). Munch Museum, Oslo © Munch Museum, Oslo.

This self-portrait is barely painted at all. Sketchy outlines, accentuated by an occasional run of paint, leave the preprimed canvas openly visible. Unsigned, the work is difficult to date; the distinct darkened area around the right eye, however, suggests it is related to Munch’s condition in 1930, when a hemorrhage impaired the painter’s vision. Since he had already lost full function of his left eye, Munch found himself threatened with blindness. During his convalescence, he recorded the phenomena of entoptic vision (visual effects that originate within the eye itself) caused by the hemorrhage in colorful sketches, watercolors, and paintings. Yet here he chose to employ only the sparsest means, conveying a sense of bleakness that seems to directly mirror his fear for his eyesight.

This work is exhibited in the "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Invisible" exhibition, on view through September 4th, 2016. #MetBreuer