A Moment in Art History – Edvard Munch’s the Scream – the perfect symbol for 2020?

“The Scream” has to be one of the world’s most recognizable paintings. First created in 1893, Edvard Munch actually crafted several different versions of this work over the following years in oil, pastel, tempera and as a lithograph. In recalling the genesis of the piece, Munch said that he had been out for a walk at sunset when suddenly the setting sunlight turned the clouds ‘a blood red’. He sensed an ‘infinite scream passing through nature.”

Munch’s life primed him to create this iconic painting.

Watch this Moment in Art History to learn more about “The Scream” and the life of Edvard Munch.

I would love to hear your impressions of the scream. How do you feel about this painting? Have you seen one of the versions Munch created in person? What impact has it had on you?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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29 Comments

  1. Eddy Munch is one of the most overrated artists ever. I have seen “The Screen” in the Munch museum in Oslo ( the only art museum that I couldn’t wait to get out of) and another version in the National Art Museum in Oslo. The one in the National Museum is the better of the two, which isn’t saying much. Munch was not much of an artist, he did about three works that could qualify as not being terrible, it’s too bad that his father didn’t manage to burn more of his work. Norwegian misery and angst and madness do not a good artist make.

    1. Let’s agree to disagree. In addition to “The Scream”, I particularly admire “Vampire”, “Self-Portrait in Hell”, and “Golgotha”, along with a number of his other Self-portraits. “The Scream” is a great painting because it resonates.

  2. I got to see the Scream at the High Museum in Atlanta a few years ago. Much like the comment above, I have never understood why this painting is so famous.

  3. Excellent series, Jason! Educational and inspiring.

    One thing I would correct…because it’s a common error. The TEMPERA medium is not the Japanese deep fried-batter treat…TEMPURA. And it is spelled as well as pronounced differently. The emphasis is on the first syllable in TEMpera (almost ‘TEM-pra’) rather than temPUra, where the accent is on the second syllable. Tempera is the name given to an opaque, almost chalky watercolor medium.

  4. “The Scream” on of my personal favorites ! Thank you Jason for this eyes wide open video on a notable human who took the risk of being A vulnerable artist in the face of mental torment. Polarity is a necessity for light to shine. When both poles come together and Agree to meet , that’s when the energy flows. As an expressionist , Munch chose a visual style of the Quantum world that physics was stepping into as well. The Higher consciousness Pertaining to the non linear world of energy, frequency and vibration was represented by artists way before Science proved it. Munch found the depths of despair he felt inside his mind to be expressing outwardly on the physical plane of his Personal existence. Nature was Appearing in resonance with Him.

    1. Oh pul-eze, Jody!

      I Tend to agree to a certain extent with John Schmelzer and Mary Lou.

      A strong painting, yes…but a great painting?? I must be missing something.

      Thanks for the glimpses into art history, Jason – I’m a fan of the history of art.

  5. You are absolutely correct about how “The Scream” resonates. It is dread, angst, horror and fear all rolled up into one. Even as a child, when I first saw this painting in an art book, I could sense what the artist was trying to convey. As far as the comments about Munch not being a good artist, I am reminded of an incident that happened to the American writer/illustrator, James Thurber. His work was being shown at a gallery and a woman came up to him and said, “Mr. Thurber, my six year old daughter can draw much better than you can.” He replied, “That may be so but then she has not experienced what I have throughout my life.”

  6. Viking.tv had a 30 minute Presentation on Munch because they are opening this year his Museum. In Olso. Norway. It is a well done documentary. The scream reminds me of death and I have never cared for it. In fact, when my Mother died after a bit, her face moved into that position. I understand it’s impact on all people. And the latter part of his life, he painted to represent our human emotions and his work is fascinating.

  7. I loved learning about this painting and artist – thank you. The Scream has long been a favorite of mine since it so clearly expresses a human emotion. I agree that it perfectly expresses what so many of us feel about 2020!

  8. Jason, I appreciate the insight into the artist & this image “The Scream”. It means so much more to me now, knowing how he lived, what he was up against, and how he still pursued painting. Not a whole lot different than many of us artists.

  9. What a wonderful video!! Thank you for putting it together. Yes, I have seen the painted version of The Scream, but could not tell you when or where. I remember feeling spellbound by the power of the figure’s anguish and it reminded me of deep the dark feelings that I have experienced in my own life. I agree with you that no other painting captures the angst and horror of 2020 like this one. Is this the first Art History moment, or do you have past ones I can view on your blog or website? Stay safe and wear a mask.

  10. The first time I saw a rendition of this painting, I thought the artist was suffering from light deprivation and was in desperate need of anti-psychotics. It is as iconic as American Gothic. to respond to those who do not think it a great painting, art history includes pieces that represent changes in attitudes and styles. This work reminds me of Wagner’s music—wild, and bordering on irrationality.

  11. Thanks for the history lesson on Munch’s background. It was interesting. I’m not a fan of the scream, but I did enjoy seeing some of his other work and learning a bit about his life.

  12. Thank you, Jason. I do think it is a painting for our times. Very nice seeing his other paintings as well. Everyone has a different opinion of this painting; it has always resonated with me.

  13. I am really enjoying these videos, Jason. Thanks. It was interesting and touching to learn of Munch’s tortured emotional background, which gave me a deeper understanding behind this painting, as well as of many of his others.

    However, I am not enjoying those who feel the need to be judgmental and critical about other people’s opinions. Art is a very personal experience. No one should be insulted here for liking something that someone else does not.

  14. Excellent piece and series. Carry on! I feel certain I could name a number of artist’s that i think are overrated that some of your corresponding folks think are “Mrvelous” because of the hype they have received from some of the very dubious “critics”.

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