Edvard Munch is an artist who drew a psychological gateway through his works. His creations have so much depth that it entices one to explore the pattern of thoughts that he brought to life in the form of his paintings especially The Scream.
Most of his paintings exemplified Symbolism and Expressionism. It is inspired by a personal experience of Munch. It is known that he suffered anxiety and often had panic attacks due to the loss of his mother at a very tender age of five and later one of his sisters. This coupled with numerous tragic events caused Munch to think of art as a way to escape.
Munch made four versions of the painting, the earliest one was completed in 1893. Perhaps he wanted to bring out his expression more vividly and thus attempted to cream 4 versions of one artwork. It is essentially autobiographical as it is based on Munch’s own experience that he recorded in 1892.
“ I was walking along the road with two friends, the Sun went down — I felt a gust of melancholy —suddenly the sky turned a bloody red. I stopped — leaned against the railing, tired to death—as 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.”
Thus, it was this experience that Munch had attempted to bring to life. The central character in the painting seems an effeminate or androgynous figure. The head is like a skull, almost as if the skin is melting and the eyes are popping out. The figure is overwhelmed with fear and anxiety caused by the “scream through nature.” It has shaken everything and so the bloody sky, fjord, and the city have blended into a chaotic mix. In contrast, the other two characters in the background are in a state of normalcy because they haven’t heard this shrieking. In one of the pastel versions of the painting, Munch has rendered the sky with a more sanguine tone. It is the brightest of all the versions.
The question about the cause of the scream invites a lot of responses. Some critics have suggested that the scream was of human suffering owing to the point of departure of modernism and hence the changes caused by it. Others suggest the personal problems faced by him were the major cause of this hysteria. Munch had confessed that such a work could only have been created by a ‘madman’, thereby necessitating such suffering for the creation of such great artwork.
Apart from the colorful versions of the painting, there is also a lithograph that was translated by Munch himself in 1885.
It resonates with everyone and in every time, past or current. It is such a famous work that it has been stolen twice, the recent theft happened in 2012. It has also been a part of pop culture. This suggests the greatness of Munch’s creation, which has influenced people of all times.
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Written By: Ashmita Khandelwal
Editor and Team Lead: Ashutosh Sharma