"The Scream" – An Analysis

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Considered second to The Mona Lisa most popular painting,Edward Munch’s The Scream is something more than a marvel of expressionist art. Created by the Norwegian icon in 1893, the piece of art has been a topic of discussion for more than a century. The amazing masterpiece has been interpreted differently by various artists. Like Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa, this piece has been subjected to controversy after being stolen and recovered a couple of times. The enigma of the artwork lies in its simplicity. The piece is utterly simple but bears a heavy meaning and conveys a strong and comprehensive message. It is important to mention that the painting was created just before the expressionist era – a time when the artists across Europe resorted to revealing their inner feelings and emotions through art. This paper is a critical analysis of the legendary piece – The Scream.

Purpose and Focus

Primarily, Munch’s intentions or motivations regarding this piece of art are not clear. Many people have suggested different theories explaining the factors that could have possibly pushed Munch to create the painting. While others have deep interpretations, some make superficial assumptions, arguing that possibly, Munch was trying to tell a tale through the piece of art. In my view, the masterpiece can be interpreted differently, and it has more than one meaning. While there are many interpretations, it is clear that one of the most prominent motivations was a personal experience that people found in Munch’s diary. According to the entry, Munch was walking along a certain path when he suddenly felt worn out and sick. He paused and looked over a fjord that was somewhere below the point where he hd stopped. The artist observed that the sun was going down, and the clouds were becoming abnormally red – like blood. At that point, he felt a scream rushing through nature. He actually thought he heard the scream, because to him, the color shrieked.

According to the diary, the entry was titled Nice, which adds to the mystery surrounding the painting. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that other artists argue that, according to the recorded history of the area where the picture was made, it reveals that some powerful eruptions from Krakatoa – a huge volcanic mountain – used to tint the skies red for quite a long time, mostly two to three months. They claim, therefore, that the red skies in the picture could be meant to represent the effects of the volcanic eruptions. In my opinion, the artist could have fetched his motivation from the two theories – personal reasons and the natural phenomenon associated with the mountain’s eruptions.

How Well Munch Achieved His Purpose

Munch adequately attains his objective through near perfect use of color, lines, and space. As mentioned earlier, the painting is exceptionally simple. The use of lines and color explains the mixed interpretations of the painting. The simplicity of the picture is explained by the fact that it has four main objects – the bridge, the crimson skies, the sexless being, and the fjord below. Primarily, the sexless being could be a representation of Munch himself, assuming that the painting was a reflection of what we read from his diary. The red skies could be representing the uniquely scary skies that Munch describes in his diary as well. The fjord is also the same thing mentioned in his diary.

Going by the preesumption that he was painting the effects of the volcano, the red color and the contrasting blue color of the fjord represent the opposing forces of nature. The red paint brings out the rage and anger of nature while the blue fjord below represents the coolness and tranquility of nature. The use of contrast is effective in bringing out multiple messages through a single artwork. It is also important to mention that the person screaming in the painting embodies the human being and the extent to which he is affected and confused by these forces of nature. The scream reveals that the human being is always trapped by and has no control over such forces of nature. The curvy lines in the painting depict the uncertainty and unpredictability of life – an endless journey represented by the long bridge in the painting.

Worthiness of ‘The Scream’

This piece of art was worth making because, just like most expressionist artworks, it expresses quite a number of emotions. From the biography of Edward Munch, it is clear that the iconic artist struggled with insanity in his own life and within his family. It is possible to conclude that, through this painting, the artist brought out his hurt and frustration – the bitterness that punctuated his life for a long time. Secondly, the screaming creature could be representing the pains of life and the changing times that human beings have to deal with always, as nature goes on and on.

Considering that this painting is Edward Munch’s masterpiece, it is only reasonable to argue that the artwork was worthwhile. The attention it has attracted from all over the world makes it legendary. Additionally, it is a valuable piece of art because it marked the beginning of the Expressionist era.

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