The Scream by Edvard Munch
The painting The Scream is an artwork by Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter of the XIX century. The painting belongs to Expressionism, a movement that emerged in 1905 as a reaction to Impressionism. Despite of being pessimistic, he painted with bright alive colors, which is somewhat contradictory. The painter made four versions, each one representing an androgynous figure in the foreground, symbolizing modern man in a time of deep anguish and existential despair. The background scenery is Oslo seen from the hill of Ekeberg. This painting is considered one of the most important artworks of the artist and the expressionist movement.
It has many warm colors in the background, semi-dark light and the main figure is a person on a path with fences that that is lost of sight of the scene outside. This figure is screaming, with an expression of despair. In the background, almost out of the scene, two figures with hat that can not be distinguished clearly are seen. The sky seems fluid and swirling, like the rest of the background.
The source of inspiration could be found perhaps in the tormented life of the artist, a man educated by a strict father and rigid that, being a boy, saw to die his mother and sister from tuberculosis. In the 1890s, Laura, his favorite sister, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was interned to a psychiatric hospital. The animic state of the artist is reflected in these lines, that Munch wrote in his diary around 1892:
I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.
Munch immortalized this impression in the painting Despair. Not happy with the result, Munch paints a new picture. The Scream. The most common themes in the work of Much were related to feelings and human tragedies, such as loneliness, anguish, death and eroticism.
Expressionism emerged in 1905 as a reaction to Impressionism. The expressionists defended a more personal and intuitive art, where predominated the inner vision of the artist against the depiction of reality, reflecting in their artworks a personal and intimate theme with a taste for the fantastic, distorting the reality to accentuate the expressive character of the artwork.
Modern painting is known as the painting that began in the XX century, with the first signs as the called Vanguards. New technologies caused that the art changed its function, because the photography and cinema already captured the reality.
In conclusion, The Scream is not only one of the greatest artworks of all the times, but in the late XX century it became an icon, with multiple representations. It is an artwork that I personally love, and those feelings of despair of the artist are completely captured by this painting.
The most famous version of this painting is in the National Gallery of Norway, in Oslo, Norway.