The Scream by Edvard Munch

Facts about The Scream by Edvard Munch

We found 21 facts about The Scream by Edvard Munch

A symbol of anxiety about the human condition

"The Scream is Edvard Munch's most famous work and one of the most recognizable paintings in all of art. It is said to represent the universal fear of modern man.

The painting is painted in broad bands of bright colors and highly simplified forms, in which the figure is reduced to a clothed skull in a moment of emotional scream.

The Scream by Edvard Munch
"The Scream is a work by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch.

It was painted in Oslo in 1893.

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter and printmaker who lived from 1863 to 1944.

He is considered one of the forerunners of Expressionism. Munch was an artist and innovator, especially in the field of printmaking, as he was the first to use color graphics. He championed a style based on strong contours, flowing Art Nouveau lines, varied color and expression.

European painting of the 19th century was strongly influenced by his work. 

"The Scream is regarded as his finest work.

The Norwegian name of the work is "Skrik" (Scream).

The German title is "Der Schrei der Natur", and it was under this title that the painting was first exhibited.

"The Scream, as well as other works by Munch, had a major influence on the Expressionist style.

Expressionism was a modernist movement that originated in Northern Europe, primarily Germany, in the early 20th century. Its hallmark was to depict the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it for emotional effect to evoke an appropriate mood or idea.

Artists of this movement sought to express the meaning of emotional experience, the subjective feelings and reactions that objects and events evoke in people, rather than physical reality. The style encompassed not only painting, but also architecture, literature, theater, dance, film, and music.

Important forerunners of Expressionism included Friedrich Nietzsche, August Strindberg, Frank Wedekind, Walt Whitman, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Vincent van Gogh, James Ensor, Sigmund Freud, and Edvard Munch.

Art critics said the painting depicted a modern man expressing his existential pain, a cry of despair.

The painting depicts a somewhat deformed face of a figure expressing terror. This is suggested by the open mouth, ready to scream. It is likely that this is a silent cry of desperation, the inability to articulate any sound in the face of terror.

Behind the figure there are two shadows, presumably in pursuit of the figure for sinister purposes, or perhaps they are indifferent to the figure's suffering. The background of the scene is the sea in shades of black and gray, suggesting the impossibility of escaping from the pursuing figures, and the expression of the tormented, terrified face expresses it.

The painting was created in 1893 and belongs to the "Frieze of Life" series.

It is painted in Munch's characteristic style. Extremely strong contours, a rather fluid line, a dark palette, and a variety of colors that contrast strongly with each other. The painting definitely has an expressive character.

"The Scream" evokes a sense of fear and dread of what is about to happen.

It frightens the sensitive viewer, and this fear is heightened by the author's use of vivid, bright colors that contrast strongly with each other.

The picture has a great emotional charge, the terrified figure intrigues, forces reflection. Other figures appearing in the background, perhaps expressing indifference to human suffering, or reinforcing the fear of the terrified individual.

The interpretation of the painting can be a matter of opinion.

It is believed that the idea to paint this work came from the painter's emotional state. Munch suffered from depression, anxiety and neurosis, which were destroying him.

It could be a cry against the world around, loneliness and the indifference of other people to one's problems, against the fear of the unknown.

The painting shows the problem of man's alienation in the hurrying world, where other people, their problems and their fears are often overlooked. It has a timeless character and overtones.

Munch painted four paintings under the title "The Scream".

Painted between 1892 and 1895, they are part of the "Frieze of Life" series dedicated to death, fear, and love. The artist used different painting techniques.

The first painting is on cardboard, 91 x 73.5 cm, and was created using a combined technique of oil, tempera and pastel. This painting can be found in the National Gallery in Oslo.

The second painting, measuring 83.5 x 66 cm, was painted by Munch on cardboard in tempera. It is currently in the Munch Museum in Oslo.

The other two were done in pastels. One of them also went to the Munch Museum, and the other ended up in the hands of a private German collector of Jewish origin, Hugo Simon, who sold the painting to the Norwegian shipowner Thomas Olsen around 1937.

There is a hidden message on the painting that says, "Can only have been painted by a madman!"

The first version of the painting contains a barely visible inscription: "Kan kun være malet af en gal Mand!" ("Can only have been painted by a madman!"), written in pencil, in small letters and located in the upper left corner of the painting. It is not clearly visible and can only be discovered upon close examination of the painting.

It was thought to be a comment by a critic or visitor to the exhibition. Through infrared analysis and comparison with the painter's handwriting, it was determined that the comment was written by Munch.

The inscription was not noticed until eleven years after the painting's completion, during the 1904 exhibition in Copenhagen. It is believed that the author added it after critical reviews following the painting's first exhibition in Norway in 1895. The criticism hurt Munch deeply, especially since he was incredibly sensitive due to his sister's mental illness.

The inspiration for "The Scream" came during a walk at sunset.

As he walked, the light of the setting sun suddenly took on a blood-red color that it imparted to the clouds. As Munch himself claimed, at that moment he felt "an infinite scream passing through nature.

Years later, researchers located the site above a fjord overlooking Oslo on a road leading to Oslo from Ekeberg Hill, at the foot of which was a psychiatric institution where Munch's sister was being treated for manic-depressive disorder.

Ten years before the first painting, the tragic eruption of the Kratakau volcano in Indonesia occurred.

When Munch saw the blood-red sky, a theory arose that it was a reminder of the events of 1883, when the eruption of Kratakau caused such a massive explosion of pyroclastic material into the atmosphere that bloody sunsets were visible in many parts of the world, including London, New York, and Tokyo.

Munch was an expressive painter and did not literally depict what he saw.

The red sky over Norway may have been caused by the presence of polar stratospheric clouds, which are characteristic of these latitudes. These clouds look very similar to the sky depicted in "The Scream".

The figure in the foreground of the painting may have been inspired by a Peruvian mummy.

Munch may have seen this mummy at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. It was buried in an embryonic position with its hands along its face and also impressed Paul Gauguin, becoming the model for figures in more than twenty of his paintings, including the figure in the painting "Human Misery" and the old man on the left in the painting "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?"

It has also been suggested that the inspiration may have been a mummy in the Florence Museum of Natural History, which is even more similar to the figure in the painting. However, this theory has been questioned because Munch did not visit Florence until after he painted The Scream.

"The Scream" has sold for a record price of more than $119 million.

The pastel version of "The Scream," owned by the family of a Norwegian shipowner, sold for $119,922 at a Sotheby's auction to financier Leon David Black. 

Sotheby's said it was the most colorful version of the four Munch painted and the only one whose frame was hand-painted by the artist.

After the sale, Sotheby's auctioneer Tobias Meyer said the work was "worth every penny. He also said, "It is one of the world's greatest art icons and whoever bought it should be congratulated.

Munch also created a lithographic stone.

It shows the 1895 version of the painting. Only a few of Munch's prints have survived.

Most of the existing prints were made without Munch's knowledge by a printer during the artist's absence.

"The Scream has been the subject of many thefts and attempted thefts.

The first occurred on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, February 12, 1994. Two men broke into the National Gallery in Oslo, stole the painting and left a note that read: "Thanks for the poor security."

The thieves demanded a ransom of $1 million, which the gallery refused to pay. Norwegian police, in cooperation with British police, recovered the painting intact in May 1996 as part of Operation Sting. The men were convicted, but ultimately escaped punishment because of a breach of legal procedure - British agents entered Norway under false identities.

By the end of the 20th century, " The Scream " had become a pop culture icon.

The image was imitated, parodied, and copied after the copyright expired. It was used on book covers, and pop artist Andy Warhol in 1983-1984 made a series of screen prints copying Munch's paintings, including "The Scream." In this way, he wanted to desacralize the painting by making it a massively reproducible object.

The famous killer's mask from the movie "Scream" was also modeled on a character from a Munch painting.

"The Scream has been featured on stamps issued by the Norwegian Postal Service.

In 2013, it was chosen as one of four paintings for a series of stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch's birth.

The painting has also become a symbol for people suffering from trigeminal neuralgia (a condition described as the most painful).
A simplified version of the painting's motif has been used in pictogram form by the U.S. Department of Energy as a hazard symbol warning of the presence of radioactive waste.
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