Essays academic service


Impact of edvard munch s the scream

What is the meaning of The Scream?

By Alastair Sooke 4 March 2016 Beneath a boiling sky, aflame with yellow, orange and red, an androgynous figure stands upon a bridge. Wearing a sinuous blue coat, which appears to flow, surreally, into a torrent of aqua, indigo and ultramarine behind him, he holds up two elongated hands on either side of his hairless, skull-like head. His eyes wide with shock, he unleashes a bloodcurdling shriek. Despite distant vestiges of normality — two figures upon the bridge, a boat on the fjord — everything is suffused with a sense of primal, overwhelming horror.

Everything is suffused with a sense of primal, overwhelming horror Or, to be precise, it is one of four versions of The Scream that Munch created in his lifetime. Elsewhere in the city, the Munch Museum boasts the other painted version, from 1910, as well as a rendition in pastel from 1893. But the version I am describing, a pastel-on-board from 1895, still in its original frame, is the only one of the four that remains in private hands.

View image of The 1895 pastel-on-cardboard version of The Scream Credit: In my mind, it is the most intense version: It was in Germany, during several creatively frenzied years, while fraternising with like-minded artists and writers, such as his close friend August Strindberg, at a bar called the Black Piglet, that Munch created the major paintings which remain his best-known works, including The Vampire and Madonna.

They were conceived for his epic, semi-autobiographical series The Frieze of Life, which transmuted his own high-keyed emotions concerning love, sexuality and death into universal symbols. The original, 1893 version of The Scream was one of 22 elements in the cycle. View image of The Vampire Credit: I stopped, leaned against the railing, tired to death — as the flaming skies hung like blood and sword over the blue-black fjord and the city — my friends went on — I stood there trembling with anxiety — and I felt a vast infinite scream through nature.

Within the exhibition, a glowering woodcut from 1917 by the German artist Erich Heckel makes plain the Expressionist debt to Munch: In 1984, Andy Warhol made a series of screen-prints that recast The Scream in bright, eye-popping colours.

View image of The Howling Pope Credit: The charismatic Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic persuaded inhabitants of Oslo to scream in public as a tribute to Munch.

The Scream has been ripped off, caricatured and lampooned so often that it is now far more famous, in its own right, than its creator. And, of course, by now, it has been everywhere: For Lloyd, it was successful, as an image, because it articulated an important shift that occurred within Western culture around the turn of the 20th Century.

  • In 1984, Andy Warhol made a series of screen-prints that recast The Scream in bright, eye-popping colours;
  • The original, 1893 version of The Scream was one of 22 elements in the cycle;
  • View image of The Vampire Credit;
  • But the version I am describing, a pastel-on-board from 1895, still in its original frame, is the only one of the four that remains in private hands;
  • This is what distinguishes modern man from post-Renaissance history up until that moment;
  • His eyes wide with shock, he unleashes a bloodcurdling shriek.

This is what distinguishes modern man from post-Renaissance history up until that moment: