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Anxiety Paintings > Puberty


Puberty, 1894-5
Oil on canvas
151.5 x 110 cm

Your Comments

Jill of Memphis wrote on Dec 5, 2003:
Oh Pleeeaaase!!!!
You people have WAY OVER analyzed this wonderful painting. Munch simply painted a model who just happened to be a lovely young model who just happened to be shy and who just happened to not want to pose spread eagle.

Hank wrote on Sep 1, 2001:

I think the idea that this is a painting of a girl about to be sexually assaulted is ridiculous and shows a distinct lack of knowledge about Munch's life and concerns. He never showed the male overpowering the female; in fact, he was much more concerned with the dual predatory & life-giving nature of woman. He shows this young girl on the edge of becoming a woman, and shows her anxiety about the way this will change her life. The ominous hues and shadowing to this picture are to symbolize adulthood and sexual maturity looming large over the spirit of the child. She attempts to hide her body, which is quickly changing into that of the archetype"Woman", which appears again and again in an ambiguous desired/feared status throughout Munch's work (i.e. Madonna, Vampire). In fact, Munch was much more concerned with the effect the union of a man and woman would have on the man, showing the woman as a creature that devours man's spirit (as in The Kiss). As far as I know, he never attempted to portray men as the predators, but instead as victims. I certainly do not think he intended to imply that this painting was a rape scene, but instead simply another stage in the development of the life cycle of a woman.

Roberto wrote on Jul 15, 2001:

I think that in this picture describes the anxiety of growing up, the body changes and her thoughts are changing too. She is becoming a woman.
The fear of change is expressed through the shadow behind her back.
She is naked, and she knows for the first time her sensuality. She is trying to cover her body with her arms to defend her innocence but growing up doesn't depend on her.

John wrote on Mar 20, 2001:

This piece displays Munch's sexual intrigue. He is a celibate individual and believes that sex is a matter of the male mantis overcoming the female mantis. This painting obviously displays a girl that is about to become sexually assaulted. She is scared, and covers herself with her arms. The shadows and the ominous hues used in the painting back this theory. Munch added a vicious twist with the title, implying that the girl is ready sexually in a physical aspect but not in a mental aspect, but is anyone?

Jill wrote on Jan 19, 2001:

I think in this picture Munch has captured the true feeling of a girl who has just discovered her body and what it is capable of doing without her control. I think it has frightened her and she is innocent and has no clue to what is going on, there is even a feeling of embarrassment from this painting.

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Picture: Edvard Munch: The Frieze of Life.