The motif in Two People is one of the simplest of all of Munch’s motifs relating to the theme of love.
We see the characteristic shoreline with the large rocks at Aasgaardsstrand, a woman dressed in light clothing and a man in dark clothing with his back to us. She is looking out to sea, he is half turned towards her.
Munch made several graphic variations of the motif, all with the point of departure in a painting which was lost in a shipping accident in 1901.
Munch had an experimenting approach and developed his own techniques, which had important consequences for the picture’s expression.
In order to simplify the printing process for woodcuts, he sawed up the woodblocks. The individual parts were then rolled out with different colours and then put together again like a jigsaw puzzle before being put through the printing press. In this way Munch had made a multicoloured print in just one single operation.
This woodcut from 1899 is printed from one block sawn into three parts: the shore and the man in one part, the woman in another part, and the sea in the third part.
The expression in the motif has thus become further simplified and concentrated. In her strict, closed form the woman seems isolated and unavailable to the man who appears to be approaching her.
The motif has also been called The Lonely ones.