The Scream is a very interesting painting to discuss and mull about. The Scream gives the viewer infinite possibilities to interpret the painting and its subjects. Munch has juxtaposition various elements of despair and melancholy in this painting. The bright orange fiery sky shows a high level of movement and confusion, with undulating waves like a swirling whirlpool. The figures on the bridge are as melancholic as the Screamer. They may be on the way back home from work; their posses show a depressed and anxious stature. The third element is an eerie ship in the distance, which looks like it is aimlessly floating in the dark blue whirlpool. Lastly we come to the centre point of the painting a ‘being’ with a ghoulish face, screaming, and clutching a contorted face. The face depicts the despair the screamer is going through. It could be a sign of being left out and lonely in a fast moving world. It looks like the sound of the Scream is spreading through out the painting, enveloping everything in the same agony.
Munch’s Screamer tries to capture the anxiety of modern life, prevailing at the times. During the years at the end of the century the world was moving faster than one could realise. Society was being transformed politically, socially and technologically. Modern cities were growing rapidly, and with them a sense of isolation and alienation. New machines like the airplane, the automobile the telephone, and the radio were changing people’s lives. And advances in science and psychology were establishing the importance of emotions and the unconscious. Artists of the time like Munch, needed to express their feelings about these disturbing changes.
Thus the Scream was painted.
The Scream is one of the best known examples of a new kind of painting called Expressionism. In this work, Munch doesn’t just paint what a person in pain might look like. He sees the world through the eyes of this agonized person. In The Scream, the entire landscape is distorted by pain and despair. A ghostly figure clutches its skull-like head in agony. Blood-red lines vibrate around it like shrieks of terror.
The painting was stolen back in 1994 but recovered in the same year. The painting is cared for by the Museum of Oslo, Norway. Recently ‘The scream was declared on the highest paintings auction in western art, beating the price of Picasso’s ‘Nude, Green Leaves and Bust’. The painting was acquired by a telephone bidder for $119.9 million.