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the scream
(1893)

the scream canvas print

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e d v a r d   m u n c h  |  t h e   s c r e a m  ]


"My friends walked on and there I still stood, trembling with fear - and I sensed a great, infinite scream run through nature."
- Edvard Munch


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the scream

    The rictus of agonised despair chills the soul, signifying a misery so intense that the very sky seems to splinter in lurid shards before it. And yet it speaks to us all.

    The Scream by Edvard Munch is a disturbing icon of modern art that we all can identify with. We know what it is to feel as the subject does and his plight generates fear and sympathy in equal measure.

    Indeed, so famous and so popular is Munch's ú40million painting that it is reproduced on everything from posters to cups. It is one of the three works of art most frequently parodied in advertisements and cartoons (the other two are Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Michelangelo's David.

    In August 2004 the picture was in the news again after one version of it - Munch created four in total - was stolen in broad daylight from the Munch Museum in Oslo.

    The Scream is an irresistable trophy to art thieves. Another version was stolen in the early 1990s and recovered after an elaborate sting operation by Norwegian police and Scotland Yard.

    Munch was in his 30s when he painted the picture that was to become a focus of such fascination, but the moment of inspiration had come several years earlier.

    He wrote in his journal:

      'I was out walking with two friends. The sun began to set. I felt a breath of melancholy. Suddenly the sky turned blood-red. I paused, deathly tired and leaned on a fence looking out across the flaming clouds over the blue-black fjord and towns. My friends walked on and there I still stood, trembling with fear - and I sensed a great, infinite scream run through nature.'

    Astronomers now speculate that the red sky he saw might have been caused by the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, half a world away in Indonesia, that sent massive dust clouds up into the atmosphere, leading to a series of intense and other spectacular sunsets.

    Other Munch fans claim to have pinpointed the exact spot where he was standing at the moment he was overwhelmed by this sense of horror - on a road in Oslo, looking out towards the harbour and Hovedo Island.

    In fact, it is to the artist's early years, rather than a single moment, that most look to explain the agaony contained within this provocative image.

    Modern psychiatrists would have a field day with Munch's childhood, pocked as it was by a catalogue of tragedies. As he himself put it:

      'Disease, insanity and death were the angels which attended my cradle, and since then have followed me throughout life.'

    The Scream canvas print

    Read more about Edvard Munch by clicking here.


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biography | gallery | books | posters
edvard munch
marc chagall | jean cocteau | salvador dali
hundertwasser | frida kahlo | henri matisse | egon schiele

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