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"the Scream" by Edvard Munch

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 “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

This oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard painting from 1893 by the expressionist Edvard Munch is one of the most recognizable and valuable works in all art.

The Norwegian painter (Dec 12, 1863- Jan 23, 1944) and printmaker was an influence on the development of German expressionism in the early 20th century. His works were based on intense, evocative treatment of psychological and emotional themes, such as misery, sickness and death due to all his life experiences; like his family´s dead when he was still very young.  “My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness…” he once wrote. “Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder....My sufferings are part of my self and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art”. His most famous masterpieces are “The voice” which shows the call of love, “The sick child”, the awakening of physical love in “The kiss”, “Madonna” which tries to revive the mystery of sex, “Ashes” that represents the couple conflicts, the pain of love in “Vampire” and finally despair with “The scream”.

I chose this painting because it evokes a lot of emotions in me. The color Munch used in “The scream” give an anxiety feeling, and I ascribe this to the color mixing between vivid colors (yellow, orange and brushstrokes of green) and neutral ones (blue, gray, brown) in different schemes. Every single detail in this masterpiece seems to be distorted, characteristic that I relate to intrigue and doom.

My interpretation of this painting is someone (I can´t tell if it is a male or a female figure) agonizing, lost in its own reality, actually screaming for help or wanting someone to listen, but as if no one could hear its voice. That flat figure looses all effects of a human anatomy and twists like a worm to conform a completely loss of balance and dizziness evidence.  With arms raised to its head, perhaps covering his ears, the figure has its mouth wide open and “screams” directly to the viewer. Munch extends the curves of the fjord landscape, to cut with the movement through the diagonal railing and carry the whipping curve in the left side of the composition. What looks like a road in the painting was in fact a path, and the railing is a safety railing, though it looks like a bridge and it looks not that different nowadays in Oslo. If I start making up a story about Munch´s work, I would say that the railing is a borderline between madness and the normal reality. Maybe the screamer could be a victim of this insane world, being suppressed, terrorized, or persecuted by his surroundings; and when he escapes from this frustrating world hoping for a change in its figure, but these attempts are in vain…it is a victim of insanity unlike the two receding figures. Another interesting detail of this masterpiece are this two figures which are seemed in the distance, small, intact, calm as if they were not aware of what is happening around them. In fact, they are the only elements of the painting that are not distorted, but I didn´t noticed at first sight, but after analyzing the painting carefully because I got carried away by the “S” figured person screaming and the color mixture. Far away, we can also see a body of water where two little boats are also sailing calmly through the yellow, brown and light brown water. In my opinion, this could be an extraordinary and beautiful scenario but with al the distorted effects and the unusual use of colors it is doubly extraordinary and beautiful. Retaking the justification of why I picked this painting; I´ve been taught that art is anything that gives you a feeling of something, and Edvard Munch’s scream gives me a complete feelings explosion. I dare to say that I can understand what he was feeling when he painted this, maybe I don´t know his reasons to paint all of those specific figures with those specific materials, but I do get the emotions. Empathy does exist. [pic 1]

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