The Scream

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For other uses, see The Scream (disambiguation).
The Scream
Norwegian: Skrik, German: Der Schrei der Natur
The Scream.jpg
Artist Edvard Munch
Year 1893
Type Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard
Dimensions 91 cm × 73.5 cm (36 in × 28.9 in)
Location National Gallery, Oslo, Norway

The Scream (Norwegian: Skrik) is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature) is the title Munch gave to these works, all of which show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky. Arthur Lubow has described The Scream as "an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time."[1]

Edvard Munch created the four versions in various media. The National Gallery, Oslo, holds one of two painted versions (1893, shown at right). The Munch Museum holds the other painted version (1910, see gallery) and a pastel version from 1893. These three versions have not traveled for years.[2]

The fourth version (pastel, 1895) was sold for $119,922,600 at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art auction on 2 May 2012 to financier Leon Black,[3][4] the second highest nominal price paid for a painting at auction.[5] The painting was on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York from October 2012 to April 2013.

Also in 1895, Munch created a lithograph stone of the image. Of the lithograph prints produced by Munch, several examples survive.[6] Only approximately four dozen prints were made before the original stone was resurfaced by the printer in Munch's absence.[7]

The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later. In 2004, both The Scream and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum, and were both recovered two years later.

Sources of inspiration[edit]

The original German title given to the work by Munch is Der Schrei der Natur ("The Scream of Nature"). The Norwegian word skrik usually is translated as scream, but is cognate with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting also has been called The Cry.

In his diary in an entry headed, Nice 22 January 1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image:

One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.[8]

This memory was later rendered by Munch as a poem, which he hand-painted onto the frame of the 1895 pastel version of the work:

I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.[9]

Among theories advanced to account for the reddish sky in the background is the artist's memory of the effects of the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, which deeply tinted sunset skies red in parts of the Western hemisphere for months during 1883 and 1884, about a decade before Munch painted The Scream.[10] This explanation has been disputed by scholars, who note that Munch was an expressive painter and was not primarily interested in literal renderings of what he had seen. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the proximity of both a slaughterhouse and a lunatic asylum to the site depicted in the painting may have offered some inspiration.[11] The scene was identified as being the view from a road overlooking Oslo, the Oslofjord and Hovedøya, from the hill of Ekeberg.[12] At the time of painting the work, Munch's manic depressive sister Laura Catherine was a patient at the asylum at the foot of Ekeberg.[citation needed]

In 1978, the Munch scholar Robert Rosenblum suggested that the strange, sexless creature in the foreground of the painting was inspired by a Peruvian mummy, which Munch could have seen at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. This mummy, which was buried in a fetal position with its hands alongside its face, also struck the imagination of Munch's friend Paul Gauguin: it stood as a model for the central figure in his painting, Human misery (Grape harvest at Arles) and for the old woman at the left in his painting, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?. More recently, an Italian anthropologist speculated that Munch might have seen a mummy in Florence's Museum of Natural History, which bears an even more striking resemblance to the painting.[13]

The imagery of The Scream has been compared to that which an individual suffering from depersonalization disorder experiences, a feeling of distortion of the environment and one's self,[14] and also facial pain in the form of Trigeminal neuralgia.[15]

Thefts[edit]

The Scream has been the target of a number of thefts and theft attempts. Some damage has been suffered in these thefts.

Two men breaking into the National Gallery, Oslo, to steal the gallery's (1893 tempera on cardboard) version of The Scream, February 1994

On 12 February 1994, the same day as the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, two men broke into the National Gallery, Oslo, and stole its version of The Scream, leaving a note reading "Thanks for the poor security".[16][17] The painting had been moved down to a second-story gallery[18] as part of the Olympic festivities.[19] After the gallery refused to pay a ransom demand of US$1 million in March 1994, Norwegian police set up a sting operation with assistance from the British police (SO10) and the Getty Museum and the painting was recovered undamaged on 7 May 1994.[18] In January 1996, four men were convicted in connection with the theft, including Pål Enger, who had been convicted of stealing Munch's Vampire in 1988.[20] They were released on appeal on legal grounds: the British agents involved in the sting operation had entered Norway under false identities.[21]

Thieves taking paintings from the Munch Museum in Oslo on 22 August 2004

The 1910 tempera on board version of The Scream was stolen on 22 August 2004, during daylight hours, when masked gunmen entered the Munch Museum in Oslo and stole it and Munch's Madonna.[22] A bystander photographed the robbers as they escaped to their car with the artwork. On 8 April 2005, Norwegian police arrested a suspect in connection with the theft, but the paintings remained missing and it was rumored that they had been burned by the thieves to destroy evidence.[23][24] On 1 June 2005, with four suspects already in custody in connection with the crime, the city government of Oslo offered a reward of 2 million Norwegian krone (roughly US$313,500 or €231,200) for information that could help locate the paintings.[25] Although the paintings remained missing, six men went on trial in early 2006, variously charged with either helping to plan or participating in the robbery. Three of the men were convicted and sentenced to between four and eight years in prison in May 2006, and two of the convicted, Bjørn Hoen and Petter Tharaldsen, were also ordered to pay compensation of 750 million kroner (roughly US$117.6 million or €86.7 million) to the City of Oslo.[26] The Munch Museum was closed for ten months for a security overhaul.[27]

On 31 August 2006, Norwegian police announced that a police operation had recovered both The Scream and Madonna, but did not reveal detailed circumstances of the recovery. The paintings were said to be in a better-than-expected condition. "We are 100 percent certain they are the originals," police chief Iver Stensrud told a news conference. "The damage was much less than feared."[28][29] Munch Museum director Ingebjørg Ydstie confirmed the condition of the paintings, saying it was much better than expected and that the damage could be repaired.[30] The Scream had moisture damage on the lower left corner, while Madonna suffered several tears on the right side of the painting as well as two holes in Madonna's arm.[31] Before repairs and restoration began, the paintings were put on public display by the Munch Museum beginning 27 September 2006. During the five-day exhibition, 5,500 people viewed the damaged paintings. The conserved works went back on display on 23 May 2008, when the exhibition "Scream and Madonna — Revisited" at the Munch Museum in Oslo displayed the paintings together.[32] Some damage to The Scream may prove impossible to repair, but the overall integrity of the work has not been compromised.[33][34]

Record sale at auction[edit]

The 1895 pastel-on-board version of the painting, owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, sold at Sotheby's for a record US$120 million at auction on 2 May 2012.[35] The bidding started at $40 million and lasted for over 12 minutes when Leon Black by phone gave the final offer of US$119,922,500, including the buyer's premium.[4] Sotheby's said the painting was the most colorful and vibrant of the four versions painted by Munch and the only version whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem, detailing the work's inspiration.[2] After the sale, Sotheby's auctioneer Tobias Meyer said the painting was "worth every penny", adding: "It is one of the great icons of art in the world and whoever bought it should be congratulated."[36]

The previous record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction had been held by Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which went for US$106.5 million at Christie's two years prior on 4 May 2010.[37] When accounting for inflation, the highest price paid for art at an auction is still held by Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which sold for $82.5 million in 1990, or about $149 million 2012 dollars.[38] There have been reports that The Card Players, by Cézanne, sold privately for $250m in 2011,[39][40] which can not be verified for the establishment of a record price.

In popular culture[edit]

In the late twentieth century, The Scream was imitated, parodied, and outright copies have been made following its copyright expiration, which led to it acquiring an iconic status in popular culture. It was used on the cover of some editions of Arthur Janov's book The Primal Scream.[41] In 1983–1984, pop artist Andy Warhol made a series of silk prints copying works by Munch, including The Scream. His stated intention was to desacralize the painting by making it into a mass-reproducible object. Munch had already begun that process, however, by making a lithograph of the work for reproduction. Erró's ironic and irreverent treatment of Munch's masterpiece in his acrylic paintings The Second Scream (1967) and Ding Dong (1979) is considered a characteristic of post-modern art.[42] Cartoonist Gary Larson included a "tribute" to The Scream (entitled The Whine) in his Wiener Dog Art painting and cartoon compilation, in which the central figure is replaced by a howling dachshund. The Scream has been used in advertising, in cartoons, such as The Simpsons, films, and on television. The principal alien antagonists depicted in the 2011 BBC series of Doctor Who, named "The Silence", have an appearance partially based on The Scream.[43] The Ghostface mask worn by the primary antagonists of the Scream series of horror movies is based on the painting, and was created by Fun World employee, Brigitte Sleiertin, as a Halloween costume, prior to being discovered by Marianne Maddalena and Wes Craven for the film.[44]

In 2013, The Scream was one of four paintings that the Norwegian postal service chose for a series of stamps marking the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch’s birth.[45]

A patient resource group for trigeminal neuralgia (which has been described as the most painful condition in existence) have also adopted the image as a symbol of the condition.[46]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arthur Lubow, Edvard Munch: Beyond The Scream, Smithsonian Magazine, March 2006, (retrieved 29 March 2013)
  2. ^ a b Carol Vogel (17 September 2012). "'Scream’ to Go on View at MoMA". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Vogel, Carol (2 May 2012). "'The Scream' Is Auctioned for a Record $119.9 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Crow, Kelly (11 July 2012). "Munch's "The Scream" Sold to Financier Leon Black". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Carol Vogel, At $142.4 Million, Triptych Is the Most Expensive Artwork Ever Sold at an Auction, The New York Times, 12 November 2013
  6. ^ "The Scream". Becoming Edvard Munch - Influence, Anxiety, and Myth. Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Alan Parker (2 May 2012). "Will The Real Scream Please Stand Up". Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Quick Facts". Becoming Edvard Munch. The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  9. ^ Peter Aspden (21 April 2012). "So, what does ‘The Scream’ mean?". Financial Times. 
  10. ^ Olson, Donald W.; Russell L. Doescher and Marilynn S. Olson (May 2005). "The Blood-Red Sky of the Scream". APS News (American Physical Society) 13 (5). Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  11. ^ "Existential Superstar: Another look at Edvard Munch's The Scream" Slate.com Slate (22 November 2005). Retrieved 10 November 2008.
  12. ^ Egan, Bob. ""The Scream" (various media 1893-1910) - Edvard Munch - Painting Location: Oslo, Norway". popspotsnyc.com. Archived from the original on 23 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Italian Mummy Source of 'Scream'?". Discovery Channel. 7 September 2004. Archived from the original on 11 October 2004. Retrieved 12 December 2006.  (waybacked mirror).
  14. ^ Simeon, Daphne; Abugel, Jeffrey (2006). Feeling Unreal: Depersonalization Disorder and the Loss of the Self. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 127. ISBN 0-19-517022-9. 
  15. ^ Williams, Christopher; Dellon, A.; Rosson, Gedge (5 March 2009). "Management of Chronic Facial Pain". Craniomaxillofacial Trauma and Reconstruction 2 (02): 067–076. doi:10.1055/s-0029-1202593. PMC 3052669. PMID 22110799. 
  16. ^ "4 Norwegians Guilty In Theft of 'The Scream'". The New York Times. AP. 18 January 1996. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  17. ^ Alex Bello: From the archive, 9 May 1994: Edvard Munch's stolen Scream recovered in undercover sting The Guardian, 9 May 2012
  18. ^ a b Dolnick, Edward (June 2005). The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-053117-1. 
  19. ^ "On this day: Art thieves snatch Scream". BBC News Online. 12 February 1994. Retrieved 31 August 2006. 
  20. ^ "Master plan". The Guardian. 13 June 2005. Retrieved 21 December 2007. 
  21. ^ Matthew Hart, The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art, Viking Canada, 2004, p. 184.
  22. ^ "Scream stolen from Norway museum". BBC News. 22 August 2004. Retrieved 3 September 2006. 
  23. ^ "Oslo police arrest Scream suspect". BBC News. 8 April 2005. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  24. ^ "Famous Munch paintings destroyed?". Norway Post. 28 April 2005. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  25. ^ "Reward offered for Scream return". BBC News. 1 June 2005. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  26. ^ "Three guilty of The Scream theft". BBC News. 2 May 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  27. ^ "Entertainment | Scream theft museum reopens doors". BBC News. 18 June 2005. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  28. ^ "Munch paintings recovered". Aftenposten. 31 August 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  29. ^ "Stolen Munch paintings found safe". BBC News. 31 August 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  30. ^ "Munch paintings 'can be repaired'". BBC News. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  31. ^ "Museum to exhibit damaged Munch paintings". Aftenposten. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  32. ^ "Munch Museum". Munch.museum.no. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  33. ^ "About the conservation of The Scream and Madonna". Munch Museum. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  34. ^ "'The Scream' to go back on display after 2004 heist". AFP. 3 March 2008. 
  35. ^ "Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale: 2 May 2012 - Lot 20". Sotheby's. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  36. ^ "Edvard Munch's iconic artwork The Scream sold for $120m". BBC News. BBC. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  37. ^ Michaud, Chris (3 May 2012). ""The Scream" sells for record $120 million at auction". Reuters. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  38. ^ Suzanne Muchni, Van Gogh Painting Sells at Record $82.5 Million, Los Angeles Times, 16 May 1990.
  39. ^ Peers, Alexandra (January 2012). "Qatar Purchases Cézanne's The Card Players for More Than $250 Million, Highest Price Ever for a Work of Art". QuatarSale. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  40. ^ "Daily chart: The $cream". The Economist. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  41. ^ Janov, Arthur. (1977). The Primal Scream. New York: Abacus. ISBN 0-349-11834-5. 
  42. ^ "Scream on the Surface". Munch-Museet. Retrieved 29 May 2005. 
  43. ^ "Doctor Who boss says season start is 'darkest yet'". BBC. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  44. ^ Kendzior, Sarah (January 2000). "The Face of "Scream"". Fangoria (Starlog Group Inc.) (189): 29. 
  45. ^ NTB: Munchs «Skrik» blir frimerke (in Norwegian) Dagbladet, February 13, 2013
  46. ^ "Facial Neuralgia Resources". Trigeminal Neuralgia Resources / Facial Neuralgia Resources. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 

External links[edit]