In this article we are going to analyze The Scream, we will comment on various curiosities that you probably did not know and we will talk about its most outstanding characteristics, in addition to the interpretations that have been given to it over the years.
- You may be interested: The 10 most famous paintings in history explained.
The Scream of Munch: Origin
Despite what many people believe, The Scream of the Painter Munch is not a painting, but a set of 4 paintings that he finished painting in the year 1893.
Currently, if you are interested in seeing the famous work , you can see two of its versions at the Munch Museum (Oslo); the most famous version of it is in the National Gallery of Norway and the fourth and last version belongs to a private collection.
There is also a version of The Scream obtained through lithography, made by the same author two years after the original work.
Analysis of Munch’s Scream
To begin with, we are going to make a simple analysis of the most important components of the work.
1. Who is the man
Or maybe we should ask who the woman is, because Munch’s Scream alone doesn’t make it clear whether we’re looking at a man or a woman in the painting.
The truth is that everything indicates that the work has a quite self-referential load , as we will understand later in this article.
2. Why does he scream
Broadly speaking, the anguish shown by the character has two interpretations . One more general and one more specific.
The general interpretation of the anguish experienced by the character is determined by existence itself and the emptiness that he feels . A person engrossed in a modern, cold and dangerous world that is often incomprehensible.
The concrete interpretation is the anguish at the loss of a loved one. In fact, Munch exhibited 6 pieces that made up a set entitled Love . These 6 paintings represented the phases that falling in love goes through until the relationship disappears; being this last phase the one that represents the shout.
3. Where is the landscape located?
The scene of The Scream places the person in the painting (and the two bystanders in the background) in Oslo. Vision obtained from the Ekeberg hill .
4. To which pictorial trend does
The Scream belong to the cultural movement called expressionism ?, which arose in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century. Therefore, we can say that Edvard Munch was one of the maximum pictorial representatives of that movement.
The main characteristic of expressionism is the deformation of reality and the appreciation of it from a very subjective point of view, where feelings, often unpleasant, flood all the works and arouse all kinds of reactions in the viewer, making this participate and connect with the work also in an emotional way.
5. From Edvard Munch to The Scream
To understand this singular painting we must know who Munch was.
It is no mystery that this prodigious artist had a very unhappy life.He was raised by a very harsh and strict father, he saw his mother and sister die of tuberculosis when he was still a child.
He himself publicly affirmed that he never got over the problems of his childhood and dragged his whole life with problems of anxiety, depression and alcoholism , as well as gastrointestinal problems (probably as a psychosomatic expression of the previous ones).
Hence the anguish that he shows not only in The Scream, but in all of his works.
Artwork: The Scream. | Munch box.
3 characteristics of The Scream
When a work has such an impact it begins to be contemplated and taken into account by many people. The scream, for this reason, has been one of the most studied works.
1. The 19th century Mona Lisa
As we commented in the previous paragraph, The Scream of Munch is to the history of contemporary art what the Mona Lisa is to classical pictorial art .
2. The main characteristic: discomfort
Whether in the form of fear or unease, the main characteristic of The Munch Scream is that it generates a rather unpleasant feeling in its viewer.
This has been proven to happen even in animals, as the neurobiologist Margaret Livingston (Harvard) confirmed when she investigated the reaction of primates to this pictorial work.
The main cause is the expression of the protagonist in the center of the painting, the combination of colors and the sinuosity of his strokes.
3. The despair before The Scream
Despair is a painting by the same author who painted before The Scream . The setting is practically the same but the person appears more defined as a man and with a softened expression with taciturn notes.
A very autobiographical painting that narrates the following events told verbatim by Munch:
“I was walking along a path with two friends (the sun went down) suddenly the sky turned blood red, I stopped and leaned against a fence dead tired ( blood and tongues of fire lurked on the dark blue of the fjord and the city) my friends continued and I stood still, trembling with anxiety, I felt an infinite scream that pierced nature”.
Work: Desperation. | Painting by: Edvard Munch.
He was not satisfied with La desesperacion and this led him to make El Grito . Anyway, I also call Despair the first painting of the 4 that I paint of the version of The Scream.
3 curiosities about The Scream
Next we are going to comment on some less technical curiosities about the work.
1. Why 4 paintings?
As we have already mentioned, Munch did The Scream four times (they are not exact reproductions, nor did he intend to). The reason with which this is usually explained is because the painter was aware of the repercussion that his painting of him was going to have and, having several copies, he could make more money selling them.
In addition, this is the reason why he made a lithograph shortly after, so that many more copies could be made and sold massively. However, it took several years for Munch’s Scream to gain the prominence that it did.
2. The inspiration of Edvard Munch
Although there is no concise data in this regard, it is thought that the idea of painting The Scream arose in Munch’s mind after visiting a museum in Paris (in 1889) and seeing a mummy that He had an expression very similar to the one he later recreated in his work.
3. The most expensive painting to date
As we said at the beginning of the article, only one of the 4 paintings of The Scream of Munch was sold to a private individual. This payment (anonymously and by telephone) 119 million dollars in 2012.
Later other works have raised more money at auction (Paul Gauguin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo got almost 300 million in 2015).