How Edvard Munch's The Scream Became an Icon


édouard monks the scream is one of the

most iconic images in art history it has

been analysed reproduced referenced

interpreted and commercialized more

often than perhaps any picture other

than Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa in

May 2012 when the last example of this

work left in private hands was offered

at Sotheby's it captured the world's

attention Monk conceived of the scream

as a part of an epic series known as the

frieze of Life which explored the

progression of modern emotional life

through themes of love anxiety and death

the scream was singled out as the most

powerful composition and it quickly

transcended its original context monk

has turned the head of the subject to

confront the viewer the figure has been

stripped of every civilizing feature it

is sexually ambiguous visually amorphous

and almost to humanize it began in 1892

was a prose poem in which monk describes

an epiphany he had won in the hills

above Oslo he wrote I was walking along

the road with two friends the Sun was

setting the sky turned a bloody red and

I felt a whiff of melancholy I stood

still deathly tired over the blueblack

fjord in City hung blood and tongues of

fire my friends walked on I remained

behind shivering with anxiety I felt the

scream in nature édouard monk the screen

doesn't emanate from the figure as one

might initially think instead the figure

is blocking out the harrowing scream of


with this monkey gives expression to an

experienced a feeling thus capturing the

definition of Expressionism the movement

for which this picture would become an

icon off the picture he later wrote you

know my picture the scream I was being

stretched to the limit

nature was screaming in my blood I was

at breaking points you know I felt it

all executed on the cusp of the most

violent century history the screen

turned out to be remarkably prescient

after the terrors of World War 2 and the

Holocaust the horror the picture

embodies was intensified and the screen

became that a finding image of

existentialism since its creation

The Scream has been appropriated for

cartoons political campaigns and other

fine art in Sotheby's impressionist and

modern art evening sale in May 2012 The

Scream sold for nearly a hundred and

twenty million dollars after a nearly 15

minutes bidding battle between seven

bidders it was the most expensive art

work ever sold at auction at the time of

sale The Scream is the ultimate portrait

the portrait of a human soul