Scream, Scream and Scream Again!

The Scream by Edvard Munch 1893

Today is the anniversary of when the famous painting ‘The Scream’ by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944) was recovered undamaged where it was first stolen in February 1994 from the Oslo Museum.  It had been missing nearly 3 months.

Artist and printmaker Munch explored themes of madness, jealousy and sexual awakening, among other psychological states.  His childhood was tragic.  His sister and mother died of tuberculosis and there was mental instability in his family.  The Scream’ (also known as ‘the Shriek) or to give its original title Der Schrei der Natur   means ‘The Scream of Nature) and the painting was part of his ‘Frieze of Life’ which he painted in 1893.

A lot has been written about Munch’s tragic personal life as well as his art  (read two of my earlier posts here and here ).  Munch. although striking, tall and handsome to women was himself quite wary of the opposite sex.  He had a fear of marriage, convinced that any children he may have may be prone to depression and physical illness – a family trait.

My original print re assembled

The location in the painting has been identified as the road leading up to the mental hospital Munch’s sister Laura Catherine was a patient in at the time of the painting.  I once watched a programme about Munch and this painting and it was said that screams could be heard from the interns  by Munch and his family.

In a page in his diary headed Nice 22.01.1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image thus:

I was walking along a path 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.

This painting has inspired films, masks and other art – my own included.  The painting has been stolen a few times.  the first time was February 12th 1994 and recovered undamaged in May 1994.

Final print

Another version of ‘The Scream’ (there are several) was stolen by gunmen in 2004 and recovered in 2006 (lots of details about the thefts here.

In 2004 I even ‘borrowed’ the painting myself, basing some lino prints on it.  The intention behind this was to show the alternative worlds between madness and sanity.  I did this by cutting my print up and re-assembling, then making  further prints.  The print is divided and has the line running down the middle to show the split personality of the self and other.  I have heightened the colours to show intensity and acuteness – but I have made one muddier and more nebular to show the hidden and less lucid mood.

Original Scream image from here

More about this painting here.

Munch Museum here

13 thoughts on “Scream, Scream and Scream Again!

  1. I always felt this painting certainly illustrated the pain Van Gogh must have felt. The mental anguish. Much of it is revealed in his correspondence with his brother Theo. It seems he could have painted this picture(with a few modifications) and I would have guessed so if I did not know the true artist.

    1. Yes, I do see what you mean carldagostino. This painting in particular writhes in its pain. The sky in this work is quite violent like Van Gogh’s. Both artists have an immediacy with their painting – an urgency to expess. Both suffered depression, though I think Van Gogh deals with his in a more ‘cheerful’ way than Munch by the way he handles nature and people (still vibrant and manic strokes but full of life). Munch’s people are tinged with sadness or illness. Interesting observation carldagostino – thanks 🙂

  2. Excellent takes with your prints, Lynda. You are so informative and seem to carry a ton of insight into what you share about these artists. I read about Munch and felt some of his anguish by viewing his paintings in that book. I cringe thinking about mental institutions and the fear of the disturbed mind in those days. We still don’t know much but I think that we have more kind ways of dealing with this illness today.
    His diary page? So frightening it must have been to see that, to be affected by that……..
    Thank you for another interesting post.

    1. Unfortunately there still is a stigma about mental institutions (probably a hangover from the asylum days) but you are right Leslie, at least the mentally ill are treated more humanely now than in the past. Munch and Van Gogh are such interesting people and are able to really convey expression through their work. Even now, art is said to be thereputic. Glad you liked the post Leslie – appreciated!

  3. I came here after visiting some of Jessica’s Japes dark poetry, and what a fascinating site you have created here! I enjoyed this post about the Scream. It must be one of the most well known paintings, even recognised by people who have no other interest in art. Your description of the artist’s background was very revealing. And I love those versions you produced yourself. How talented you are. I must return to peruse some of your other posts!

    1. Thanks Wendywoo20 (cool name) There’s lots of categories on this blog, they are all art based. Over on my other blog Bookstains which hasn’t been going as long as this one, theres poetry, poetry challenges, book reviews and film reviews. Thanks so much for your kind words and for visiting – it’s appreciated! I will check your blog out now!

  4. Those prints of yours are almost better than the original, Lynda! Nice post as always, it’s interesting how such a seemingly unpleasant painting can be so famous and respected!

    1. Thanks Jessica! I didn’t mind printmaking at all, I liked the mono printing, lino prints (this work) but didn’ like etching at all and didn’t do any successful ones. The Scream is everywhere. I remember when I first saw someone with one of those masks on! I screamed and nearly passsed out 😀

  5. When i look at the scream i fell in can understand it.
    Ie there is too much energy flowing through it for it to be natural.
    I like your prints too, it is an interesting subject for sure.
    Insanity is murky at the best of times

  6. Munch certainly got the expression of pain and anguish in this painting – like you say, the energy of the piece really effects the viewer. Great artist!

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