The Scream – painting by Edvard Munch

 

The Scream (Norwegian: Skrik) is the usual name given to each of four versions of a composition by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910.

The works show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky. Munch has 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.”

Edvard Munch created the four versions in various media. The National Gallery in Oslo, Norway, holds one of two painted versions (1893). The Munch Museum holds the other painted version (1910) and a pastel version from 1893.

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.

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

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

In the late twentieth century, The Scream was imitated, parodied, and (following its copyright expiration) outright copied, 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.

In 1983–1984, pop artist Andy Warhol made a series of silk prints copying works by Munch, including The Scream.

The expression of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) in the poster for the movie Home Alone was inspired by The Scream.

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.

The Ghostface mask worn by the primary antagonists of the Scream series of horror movies is based on the painting, and was created by Brigitte Sleiertin, a Fun World employee, as a Halloween costume, prior to being discovered by producer Marianne Maddalena and director Wes Craven for the 1996 slasher film.

In most Unicode emoji renderings, U+1F631 😱 Face Screaming in Fear is made to resemble the subject of the painting.

 

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