Let me say it out loud, not just because I’m artistically inclined:
Art is the Journal of our Times, the Colour of our Decibel: in an environment that might seem to be growing steadily deaf to human existential need, or isn’t it?
TOI smashed it with above version of the world’s 2nd most famous painting next to Mona Lisa, THE SCREAM:
originally painted by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch, 1893, (Norwegian title- Der Schrei Der Nature, the Scream of Nature: Shriek), the face of this Painting symbolizes: Quote Arthur Lubow: “….the universal anxiety of modern man.”
It is a masterpiece that has perhaps inspired one of our noisiest Emojis, little need of professional skills & cartoonery, just text an Emoji yell, 😱 courtesy Mr. Munch. (Don’t you wonder what was going on while he painted this one?) It reads to me like a Seismograph of his mind.
I found 2 paragraphs (below) from a personal journal of his: worth the read if you’re curious:
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.
“…from the moment of my birth, the angels of anxiety, worry, and death stood at my side, followed me out when I played, followed me in the sun of springtime and in the glories of summer. They stood at my side in the evening when I closed my eyes, and intimidated me with death, hell, and eternal damnation…”
When The Scream got in the news again last year, with Munch’s Collection going on exhibit in Britain, I stared at Its decibel;
the Artist on that walk with two others separated by gaps and back drop blue swirl. In this pastel version, its center figure’s skeletal eyes gawk at a deaf Universe. The Scream is certainly no photograph, with random pedestrians; this is E. Munch’s mind, another heirloom hanging in there in the noise of us.
“We do not want pretty pictures to be hung on drawing-room walls. We want… an art that arrests and engages. An art of one’s innermost heart.” – Edvard Munch
1893 to 2020:
what would Edvard M. have painted if he were here today; what was the expression of inner man, a good century ago…do gut reactions not change? It is the saddest, most explosive painting ever viewed globally.
I had written about E.M’s Scream elsewhere, and needed to include a few Readers’ Comments in this Reblog here, without which this Post would be incomplete. Thankyou, and I hope you approve.
- Ranjan Thakkar’s comment – ‘suspended understanding’ –
“…perhaps love, peace, joy, compassion, grace, beauty among others were never meant to be understood. Those moments when our understanding is suspended are to live for – where does it start or end? What actually exists in between? Is it good or bad or less significant than we make it out to be. More questions than answers ..and I don’t particularly like suspended understanding…”
Nor I, but I guess some of that makes for Masterpieces? One tries to own joy peace, love, strength, all that. Perhaps in the ‘suspended moment’ we cross fjords, chasms. Fenced in, we keel over at our dusk. Is possible we hear each other’s Screams in our own; perhaps that’s why this Painting grabs the imagination of so many. One relates to it. In our daily pursuit of happiness I’d like to think our best moments are perhaps in those suspended places, even if they are too loud to understand. or forget.
You’re right, this is a profoundly sad image. Here’s what I see in it: the stylized foreground figure is warped by his warped environment, a dynamic suggested by the swirling forces on the offing and the subject’s distorted body. He’s the same color as the two figures in the background, suggesting some kind of kinship, but they are distant and unaware, and perhaps unconcerned. And yes, this is a masterpiece.
Thank you for your comment, I was intrigued by Jill Llyod’s “..a changing point in history – man cut loose from all the certainties that had comforted him up until that point in the 19th Century: there is no God now, no tradition, no habits or customs – just poor man in a moment of existential crisis, facing a universe he doesn’t understand and can only relate to in a feeling of panic. That may sound very negative, but that is the modern state…this feeling that we have lost all the anchors that bind us to the world.” Unsure that Munch believed in any God or Eternity –d’you think there’s that vacuum today? “…facing a universe he can only relate to in a feeling of panic ? “
This was such a beautifully written piece!
I have to admit, I’ve never been that good with paintings and seeing ‘deeper meanings’ but when I read your take on it, it made so much more sense to me. Amazing how you can look at the same painting and see two completely different things, isn’t it?
And I simply love the concept of ‘suspended understanding’ as a whole. I’ve never really been able to put that feeling into words, and the way they’ve described it was spot on.
Looking forward to reading more….
Powerful post… I see the one question I hope everyone gets to ask themselves… ‘ what am I doing here?’ Then to let go and be in the void of seemingly nothing yet which actually holds everything just waiting for you to turn up and enjoy…
A long read this!
Thankyou E. Munch for making me stare at the Environment all over again today:
I’m intrigued, and curiously satisfied that somethings are growing universally common in human language: Food for one. Angst. The Relief of Fulfillment. The Joy of Discovery…especially that.
- Is It (Environment) listening, are we listening to It? Was that Munch’s Scream, or was he deafened by a yelling Universe?
More on E.Munch.
*Art historian Jill Lloyd, “The Scream ..sums up a changing point in history – man cut loose from all the certainties that had comforted him up until that point in the 19th Century: there is no God now, no tradition, no habits or customs – just poor man in a moment of existential crisis, facing a universe he doesn’t understand and can only relate to in a feeling of panic. That may sound very negative, but that is the modern state…this feeling that we have lost all the anchors that bind us to the world.”