Scream 101: About that Famous Image…

It’s an image we’re all familiar with — the connotation is VERY clear. Or is it?

The Wall Street Journal’s Ellen Gamerman wrote a cover story for the Friday Journal section that talked about Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

This familiar looking piece of modern art is coming up for auction with a screaming’ valuation of approximately $80 million.

The story talked about how the imagery resonated (“It hit a cord.”).
Did you know there are two interpretations?

>> One has the character covering its ears to block out screams.

>> Often times, it is thought to be an actual scream.

Munch scholar, Sue Prideaux, provided some backstory:

When Munch created the first version of the “The Scream,” the alcoholic and chain-smoking artist was in a state of despair: He was turning 30, had no money, was reeling from a disastrous love affair and was terrified that he would succumb to the mental illness that ran in his family.

The artist placed his amoeba-like figure at a popular suicide spot on Oslo’s U-shaped bay where passersby could hear screams from a nearby slaughterhouse and insane asylum (Munch’s sister, diagnosed with schizophrenia, was housed in that asylum).

>> Another take is that “The Scream” is Munch’s reaction to Impressionism, which seemed to bore him.

Check out the video (below) that came with the Journal story online. In it there is talk about how Munch wisely “marketed” the image by creating black-and-white lithographs so the image could be printed in European magazines and sold individually.

Apparently, in a move that James Joyce would have approved of, Munch refused to explain the work — adding to the intrigue / speculation of the public.

For sure, the sun, moon and stars aligned for Munch. Too bad the work is more famous than the artist. It wasn’t until this story that I knew the name behind the image. Thank you WSJ for enlightening us!

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1 comments
Frannie
Frannie

Just heard that "The Scream," sold for a record $119,922,500 at auction in New York City. The 1895 artwork, a modern symbol of human anxiety, was sold at Sotheby's Wednesday evening. The price includes the buyer's premium.