"Life shakes the hand of death at the moment of conception."
The Scream (or The Cry) by Edvard Munch has become one of the 20th century's most potent symbols of psychic agony. A lone emaciated figure halts on a bridge clutching his ears, his eyes and mouth open wide in a scream of anguish. Behind him a couple (his two "friends") are walking together in the opposite direction. Barely discernible in the swirling motion of a red-blood sunset and deep blue-black fjord, are tiny boats at sea, and the suggestion of town buildings.
The composition, colors and dramatic use of perspective, the undulating curves of the landscape and hollow figure personify alienation and anxiety. So why is this image so popular? What is it about this yelling figure that speaks to so many of us? Some say that The Scream reminds them of their humanity and let's them know that it's OK to "flip out" once in a while. Others appreciate the mystery that surrounds the painting - causing them to ask questions like, "Who is screaming?" and "What is so frightening?" Many too, find the piece appealing due to the use of energetic line and complementary colors.
In a note in his diary Munch described his inspiration for the image thus:
"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 was born in Ekely, Norway on December 12, 1863. After studying at the Oslo Academy and under leading Norwegian artist Christian Krohg, he began showing his work - at times causing quite a stir. As with most artists, much of Munch's subject matter came directly from his life experiences. Often called the first of the expressionists, Munch left an indelible mark on the history of art.
On December 12, 2006, Munch's birthday, a version of the painting was shown to hundreds millions of Google searchers as part of a special Google logo.
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