The $120 million Scream

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?

Snippet from Pg 5, The Times Of India, today.

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 don’t paint what I see but what I saw.” 
The Scream Edvard Munch.

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.
Edvard Munch.

Image result for quotes of Edvard Munch

“…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…”
Edvard Munch.

***

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…

Innerdialects

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.

**

 Mike

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.

Innerdialects:

 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 ? “

Natalie Swift

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….

Taruna

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.”

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160303-what-is-the-meaning-of-the-scream

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/edvard-munch-beyond-the-scream-111810150/

http://legomenon.com/meaning-of-the-scream-1893-painting-by-edvard-munch.html

26 thoughts on “The $120 million Scream

  1. Interesting observations here. The painting’s fame (infamy?) arises from its depiction of modern stress. Modernity is destroying our ties, to the past, to our native environment, to our families. We cannot help but identify with the not-quite-human figure in the center.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just read your ‘Bury my heart at Radio Shack’ and really got what you were saying about Modernity destroying our times to native environment. There’s that in all its overload, its smoke and pace. Its noise too I guess.

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  2. Such a timely post … ‘the certainties/ conceptualizations that comfort’ herein lies our demise… we need the ‘😱’ to awaken and shed what perpetuates the bubbles we live in and neglects the reality and truth of existence…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou Taruna, glad you think so.
      “..the certainties/ conceptualizations that comfort’ herein lies our demise…” oh yes! That takes up a notch higher, that is one serious observation right there.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree. For me it’s a bit of love and hate, it’s so ugly it is beautiful… that kind of thing? It sickens and releases: a mussed up emotion, best translated, I guess, in the act of a scream. Ever wonder why people scream? It’s a universal language, like laughter, frowns …
      To paint a muscle changing emotion, that’s the winner I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Little Mermaid, thankyou. I love the way Edvard M. reads in a post, it echoes decades of voices heard, unheard. It’s a wake up cry. unsure that he meant for all these ways to be read. Maybe he just painted it, over an irritation with his mother, who knows?

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    1. Ah, historians and contemporary critics might defer over what you just said about it being the best, but yes, I think so. We’ve reached a pitch so shrieking high we’re almost inaudible: i.e the voices of oppression, dissatisfaction, greed, need…
      I get you, thankyou!

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  3. “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.” I must confess that I belonged to the ‘pretty picture brigade’ some time ago. I’ve only seen photographs masterpieces and they do grow on you over time ( unlike ‘pretty pictures’) and cause one to think. The value/ price / cost or whatever it is called is something I will never understand and I think it also distracts from the painting itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cost of expression, the vulnerability of that exposure, as some would say. I’m still fascinated at the way of art, and how it either grabs, or doesn’t. I’ve had a person (from gallery) come and take that one painting I’d turned to the wall. Some paintings scream I🌻 guess. As for the price of emotion, who can say? It’s like getting home a bride, one of our friends says. Beauty in the eye of the beholder… or gut wrenching reality.
      Art is something below the surface. I abs adore Van Goghs Sunflowers, but notice the way some of his flowers droop against the vividity of his easel. Its the story I guess.
      Unsure about E.Munchs entire story, but my guess is that to 2020 humans he is a little more audible than ever before?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog. It led me to yours. This post is both interesting and informative. I’ve never quite liked this painting by Edward Munch. It’s just very distressing, seeing it. But seeing it again today in your post and reading about his own thoughts made me appreciate the painting. In today’s time, it’s so often that one feels like this- you’re screaming and nobody’s listening’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I get you. Disturbing paint, this one but it’s a Pulse of our times, I guess. Thankyou for being here, oh your blogs’ good!
      ‘..screaming and nobody’s listening..’
      you said it!

      Like

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