The Scream by Edvard Munch

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The Scream by Edvard Munch

Painting NameThe Scream
Painter NameEdvard Munch
Completion Date1895
Place of CreationNorway Oslo
Size79 x 59 cm (31.1 x 23.22 in)
TechniquePastel
MaterialCardboard
Current LocationPrivate collection

The Scream bought three things into limelight: Edvard Munch, the painter of the artwork; importance of impressionism and the town of Oslo where the artist got his inspiration to depict such a radical subject achieved never before so firmly.

The gloomy nature of the artist himself is reflected explicitly in the painting. In his personal life, Edvard Munch was much of a depressed person who also got an inevitable treatment for his mental illness for eight months in a hospital. After that, his mental condition and gloomy thoughts changed to a great degree and his paintings became more optimistic with positive colors and subjects.

Though, this painting was painted when he was fighting with his depression. On a little walk near a lake with his two friends, he was thinking deeply or was getting absorbed in his mental dilemma about the worlds and his own anxiety. When most of the people would find peace and calm in front of a setting sun over a lake, Edvard Munch, in his own words, heard the scream of nature. His years-long anxiety stirring inside his head had finally reflected in his perception. He found the beautiful red sky of the setting sun “blood red” and all the other things in similar pessimist perception. Critics say that vision or the realization of the nature’s scream was actually, the echo of artist’s own misery. Even Munch accepted that after a friend’s suggestion he tried to depict painting consisting more of his emotions.

Original name of the painting decided by the artist was also Der Schrei der Natur which meant The Cry of Nature in English. Thus, sometimes it is also simply referred as The Cry.

The reception by critics and general public was overwhelming bringing Edvard Munch in the lime-light. He was also very much pleased with the reception. Contrary to the general belief, the sad and depressed theme used in the painting is not the first time by the artist.

Many people falsely takes The Scream as the work of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, due to the same time-period of the artists and resembling styles of impressionism with unconventional brush-strokes. But, Vincent van Gogh was more of a post-impressionist artist whether Munch enjoyed being an expressionist painter.

The Scream series has total of four versions (painted during 1893 to 1895). And the displayed painting made with pastel colors on cardboard has recently sold at the staggering amount of $119.9 million in 2012 making it one of the most expensive paintings of all the time.

Though, he didn’t painted all four versions in continuous manner. In-between, he tried three more paintings with similar theme of sad and depressed emotion: Melancholy, Anxiety and Despair. They also have resembling brushstrokes and colors used to create the heavy feeling of misery. Most of Munch’s work includes the depressed theme with dark colors.

Due to its emotional effect, quickly ability to capture the viewer’s attention and impact-ful appearance, a critique called the work, “Mona Lisa of our times.” Whether we can agree to him or not (as there are many other great paintings as well), there is no doubt at gaining the artistic achievement of expressing emotional state (or even creating in the viewer’s mind) this art-piece conquers all the other paintings.

A fact which, maybe, many people don’t know is that the film series The Scream took the name from the painting as well as the antagonist of the films, The Ghostface’s mask was also inspired from the painting’s screaming face. Painting also has appeared in various movies, books and in other artist’s works.

It is worth to note that the version residing at the Edvard Munch Museum was stolen in 2004 and recovered safely a year later.

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