If you say “The Scream” most people know exactly what you’re are talking about – either the work of Norwegian Edvard Munch or the after-shave scene from Home Alone.
Today’s blog is about the former. Here are six things you about The Scream that you may not know.
1. It was not originally named The Scream
The original, German, name was Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature).
It was never intended to portray a person screaming, but rather the figure is trying to block out the ‘shriek’ that they hear around them (the work’s Norwegian title is actually ‘Skrik’).
Munch revealed his reasons for the name The Scream of Nature in a poem painted on the frame of his 1895 pastel version:
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 blue-black
Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire
My Friends walked on – I remained behind
– shivering with Anxiety – I felt the great Scream in Nature –
No wonder he’s screaming!!!!!!
2. There is more than one version
Four versions of The Scream were pained by Munch. In 1893, the first, a painted version, was exhibited in Oslo. In the same year, a pastel version was also produced, although some experts argue that this version was an initial early study or experimental version.
In 1895, Munch made a further pastel version. Finally, a second painted version, which has been dated sometime around 1910. Munch also mass-produced The Scream. He made a lithograph print, which enabled him to produce and sell many black-and-white versions.
In 1984, Andy Warhol ignited a fresh interest in Munch when he was commissioned to create pop art The Scream. Warhol went on to use the same technique on some of Munch’s other works of art.
3. The Scream was stolen twice
February 12, 1994 was the opening of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. It was also the day that daring thieves broke into Oslo’s National Gallery and made off with a version of The Scream. The thieves left a note saying, “Thanks for the poor security.” The painting was recovered three months later, and four men stood trial for the robbery. However, a legal technicality meant all four were later released without charge.
In 2004, masked thieves, armed with guns, walked into the Munch Museum in Olso and escaped with the 1910 version of The Scream and another of the artist’s pieces, Madonna. In 2006, six men went on trial for the theft, but only three of the men were convicted and sentenced. In the same year, both works of art were recovered with only minimal damage.
4. The Scream reached a record sale at auction
In 2012, the 1895 pastel version was sold at Sotheby’s in London for 120 million dollars, at the time, a record sale for a work of art. It was sold by a Norwegian businessman to an American investor.
5. The Scream is one of only a handful of artworks to be turned into an emoji
6. The Scream is vastly used in popular culture
Munch’s painting has been used in film and television.
In Doctor Who, The Silence are tall humanoids dressed in suits with monstrous faces were partly inspired by The Scream. They first appeared in “The Impossible Astronaut” in 2011.
The painting has been used in Wes Craven’s Scream movie franchise. The director admired Munch’s art and tried to capture the facial expression depicted in a mask. It was worn by the crazed murders in each film.
You can find out more about Munch and The Scream here: