The Scream
Overview
 
Scream is the title of Expressionist
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

s and prints in a series by Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 artist Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionist art. His best-known composition, The Scream, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety.- Childhood :Edvard Munch...

, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky. The landscape in the background is the Oslofjord
Oslofjord
The Oslofjord is a bay in the south-east of Norway, stretching from an imaginary line between the Torbjørnskjær and Færder lighthouses and down to Langesund in the south to Oslo in the north....

, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 (then Kristiania), Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

.

Edvard Munch created several versions of Scream in various media. The Munch Museum
Munch Museum
Munch Museum is an art museum in Oslo, Norway dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.-Munch Museum:...

 holds one of two painted versions (1910, see gallery) and one pastel.
Encyclopedia
Scream is the title of Expressionist
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

s and prints in a series by Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 artist Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionist art. His best-known composition, The Scream, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety.- Childhood :Edvard Munch...

, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky. The landscape in the background is the Oslofjord
Oslofjord
The Oslofjord is a bay in the south-east of Norway, stretching from an imaginary line between the Torbjørnskjær and Færder lighthouses and down to Langesund in the south to Oslo in the north....

, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 (then Kristiania), Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

.

Edvard Munch created several versions of Scream in various media. The Munch Museum
Munch Museum
Munch Museum is an art museum in Oslo, Norway dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.-Munch Museum:...

 holds one of two painted versions (1910, see gallery) and one pastel. The National Gallery of Norway
National Gallery, Oslo
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo is the national museum of art of Norway.It was established on 1 July 2003 through a merger of the Norwegian Museum of Architecture, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Gallery of Norway,...

 holds the other painted version (1893, shown to right). A fourth version, in pastel, is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen
Petter Olsen
Petter Olsen is a Norwegian businessman and member of the Olsen shipping family owning the company Fred. Olsen & Co.. He is the younger brother of the current leader of the company, Fredrik Olsen...

. Munch also created a lithograph
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

 of the image in 1895.

Scream has been the target of several high-profile art theft
Art theft
Art theft is usually for the purpose of resale or for ransom . Stolen art is sometimes used by criminals to secure loans.. One must realize that only a small percentage of stolen art is recovered. Estimates range from 5 to 10%. This means that little is known about the scope and characteristics of...

s. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later. In 2004, The Scream and Madonna
Madonna (Edvard Munch)
Madonna is a painting by the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch. Munch painted five versions of the Madonna between 1894 and 1895, using oils on canvas. One of them measures 91 x 70.5 cm....

were stolen from the Munch Museum. Both paintings were recovered in 2006. They had sustained some damage and went back on display in May 2008, after undergoing restoration.

Sources of inspiration

The original German title given to the work by Munch was Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). The Norwegian word skrik is usually translated as scream, but is cognate
Cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting has been called The Cry.

In a page in his diary headed Nice 22.01.1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image thus:
One theory advanced to account for the reddish sky in the background is that the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa
1883 eruption of Krakatoa
The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa began in May 1883 and culminated with the destruction of Krakatoa on 27 August 1883. Minor seismic activity continued to be reported until February 1884, though reports after October 1883 were later dismissed by Rogier Verbeek's investigation.-Early phase:In the years...

 tinted the sky red in parts of the Western hemisphere for a few months in 1883 and 1884, about a decade before Munch painted The Scream. This explanation has been disputed by scholars who note that Munch was an expressive painter and was not primarily interested literal renderings of what he had seen. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the proximity of both a slaughterhouse and a madhouse to the site depicted in the painting may have offered some inspiration.

The scene was identified as being the view from a road overlooking Oslo, the Oslofjord
Oslofjord
The Oslofjord is a bay in the south-east of Norway, stretching from an imaginary line between the Torbjørnskjær and Færder lighthouses and down to Langesund in the south to Oslo in the north....

 and Hovedøya
Hovedøya
Hovedøya or Hovedøen is one of several small islands off the coast of Oslo, Norway in the Oslofjord. The island is quite small, no more than 800 metres across in any direction, the total area is 0,4 square kilometre. It is well known for its lush and green nature, with a wide variety of trees,...

, from the hill of Ekeberg. At the time of painting the work, Munch's manic depressive
Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...

 sister Laura Catherine was interned in the mental hospital at the foot of Ekeberg.

In 1978, the Munch scholar Robert Rosenblum
Robert Rosenblum
Robert Rosenblum was an American art historian and curator known for his influential and often irreverent scholarship on European and American art of the mid-eighteenth to 20th century....

 suggested that the strange, sexless creature in the foreground of the painting was probably inspired by a Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

vian mummy
Mummy
A mummy is a body, human or animal, whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme coldness , very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry...

, which Munch could have seen at the 1889 Exposition Universelle
Exposition Universelle (1889)
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a World's Fair held in Paris, France from 6 May to 31 October 1889.It was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, an event traditionally considered as the symbol for the beginning of the French Revolution...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. This mummy, which was crouching in a fetal position with its hands alongside its face, also struck the imagination of Munch's friend Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramist, and writer...

: it stood model for the central figure in his painting Human misery (Grape harvest at Arles) and for the old woman at the left in his painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? is one of Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings. Gauguin inscribed the original French title in the upper left corner: D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous. The inscription the artist wrote on his canvas has no question mark, no...

. More recently, an Italian anthropologist speculated that Munch might have seen a mummy in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

's Museum of Natural History which bears an even more striking resemblance to the painting.

The environment of The Scream is often compared to that which an individual suffering from depersonalization disorder
Depersonalization disorder
Depersonalization disorder is a dissociative disorder in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent feelings of depersonalization and/or derealization. Diagnostic criteria include persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from one's mental processes or body...

 experiences, such a feeling of distortion of the environment and one's self.

Thefts

On February 12, 1994, the same day as the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics
1994 Winter Olympics
The 1994 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XVII Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 12 to 27 February 1994 in and around Lillehammer, Norway. Lillehammer failed to win the bid for the 1992 event. Lillehammer was awarded the games in 1988, after having beat...

 in Lillehammer, four men broke into the National Gallery and stole its version of Scream, leaving a note reading "Thanks for the poor security". The painting had been moved down to a second-story display as part of the Olympic festivities, and the presence of international media covering the games made the theft a sensation. An early claim of responsibility by a Norwegian anti-abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 group turned out to be false. After the gallery refused a ransom
Ransom
Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved.In an early German law, a similar concept was called bad influence...

 demand of US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

1 million in March 1994, Norwegian police set up a sting operation
Sting operation
In law enforcement, a sting operation is a deceptive operation designed to catch a person committing a crime. A typical sting will have a law-enforcement officer or cooperative member of the public play a role as criminal partner or potential victim and go along with a suspect's actions to gather...

 with assistance from the British Police (SO10
SO10
SO10 was the former designation of the Metropolitan Police's Covert Operations Group.-History:The group's origins can be traced back to 1960, with the formation of what was known as the Criminal Investigation Branch, which later evolved and was merged into SO10 and the Public Order Unit...

) and the Getty Museum, and the painting was recovered undamaged on May 7, 1994. In January 1996, four men were convicted in connection with the theft, including Pål Enger, who in 1988 had been convicted of stealing Munch's Vampire. However, they were released on appeal on legal grounds: the British agents involved in the sting operation had entered Norway under false identities.

Another version of The Scream was stolen in 2004. On August 22, during daylight hours, masked gunmen
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

 entered the Munch Museum
Munch Museum
Munch Museum is an art museum in Oslo, Norway dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.-Munch Museum:...

 in Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 and stole two paintings: Scream and Munch's Madonna
Madonna (Edvard Munch)
Madonna is a painting by the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch. Munch painted five versions of the Madonna between 1894 and 1895, using oils on canvas. One of them measures 91 x 70.5 cm....

. A bystander photographed the robbers as they escaped with the artwork to their car (shown at right). On April 8, 2005, Norwegian police arrested a suspect in connection with the theft, but the paintings remained missing and it was rumored that they had been burned by the thieves to destroy evidence. On June 1, 2005, with four suspects already in custody in connection with the crime, the City Government of Oslo offered a reward of 2 million Norwegian krone
Norwegian krone
The krone is the currency of Norway and its dependent territories. The plural form is kroner . It is subdivided into 100 øre. The ISO 4217 code is NOK, although the common local abbreviation is kr. The name translates into English as "crown"...

 (roughly US$313,500 or
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

231,200) for information that could help locate the paintings. Though the paintings remained at large, six men went on trial in early 2006, variously charged with either helping to plan or participating in the robbery. Three of the men were convicted and sentenced to between four and eight years in prison in May 2006, and two of the convicted, Bjørn Hoen and Petter Tharaldsen, were also ordered to pay compensation of 750 million kroner (roughly US$117.6 million or €86.7 million) to the City of Oslo. The Munch Museum itself was closed for 10 months for a $6 million security overhaul.

On 31 August 2006, Norwegian police announced that a police operation had recovered both Skrik and Madonna, but did not reveal detailed circumstances of the recovery. The paintings were said to be in a better-than-expected condition. "We are 100 percent certain they are the originals," police chief Iver Stensrud told a news conference. "The damage was much less than feared." Munch Museum
Munch Museum
Munch Museum is an art museum in Oslo, Norway dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.-Munch Museum:...

 director Ingebjørg Ydstie confirmed the condition of the paintings, saying it was much better than expected and that the damage could be repaired. The Scream had moisture damage on the lower left corner, while Madonna suffered several tears on the right side of the painting as well as two holes in Madonna's arm. Before repairs and restoration began, the paintings were put on public display by the Munch Museum beginning 27 September 2006. During the five-day exhibition, 5,500 people viewed the damaged paintings. The conserved works went back on display on May 23, 2008, when the exhibition "Scream and Madonna — Revisited" at the Munch Museum in Oslo displayed the paintings together. Some damage to "The Scream" may prove impossible to repair, but the overall integrity of the work has not been compromised.

In popular culture

In the late twentieth century, The Scream acquired iconic status in popular culture. It was used on the cover of some editions of Arthur Janov
Arthur Janov
Arthur Janov is an American psychologist, psychotherapist, and the creator of primal therapy, a treatment for mental illness that involves repeatedly descending into, feeling, and expressing long-repressed childhood pain. Janov directs a psychotherapy institute called the Primal Center in Santa...

's book The Primal Scream
The Primal Scream
The Primal Scream is a book by Arthur Janov Ph. D, the inventor of Primal Therapy. It is subtitled Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis. The book describes the experiences Arthur Janov had with 63 patients during his first 18 months discovering and practicing Primal Therapy...

. In 1983–1984, pop artist
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

 Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andrew Warhola , known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art...

 made a series of silk prints of works by Munch, including Scream. The idea was to desacralize the painting by making it into a mass-reproducible object, though Munch had already begun that process himself, by making a lithograph of the work for reproduction. Furthermore, characteristic of post-modern art is Erró
Erró
Erró is a postmodern artist. He studied art in Norway and in Italy, and has resided in Paris, Thailand and on the island of Formentera for most of his life...

's ironic
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

 and irreverent treatment of Munch's masterpiece in his acrylic paintings The Second Scream (1967) and Ding Dong (1979). Cartoonist Gary Larson
Gary Larson
Gary Larson is the creator of The Far Side, a single-panel cartoon series that was syndicated internationally to newspapers for 15 years. The series ended with Larson's retirement on January 1, 1995. His 23 books of collected cartoons have combined sales of more than 45 million...

 included a "tribute" to The Scream (entitled The Howl) in his "Wiener Dog Art" painting and cartoon compilation, in which the central figure is replaced by a howling dachshund
Dachshund
The dachshund is a short-legged, long-bodied dog breed belonging to the hound family. The standard size dachshund was bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature dachshund was developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits...

.

As one of very few works of modern art that are instantly recognizable to a broad audience, The Scream has been used in advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

, in cartoon
Cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

s, such as The Simpsons
The Simpsons
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

, and films and on TV. The principal alien antagonists depicted in the 2011 BBC series of Doctor Who
Doctor Who
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

, named "The Silence
Silence (Doctor Who)
The Silence is a fictional religious order or movement in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who.Executive producer Steven Moffat created the Silence, intending them to be "scarier" than past villains in Doctor Who...

", have an appearance based in part on The Scream.

The iconic Ghostface
Ghostface (Scream)
Ghostface is a fictional identity adopted by the main antagonists in the Scream series of slasher films. The character is voiced by Roger L. Jackson regardless of who is behind the mask...

 mask worn by the primary antagonists of the (coincidentally named) Scream
Scream (film series)
Scream is a series of American horror slasher films created by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven. The films star Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. The series has grossed over $600 million in worldwide box-office receipts and consists, to date, of four motion pictures...

 series of horror movies is based on the painting, and was created and designed by Fun World employee Brigitte Sleiertin as a Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 costume prior to being discovered by Marianne Maddalena
Marianne Maddalena
Marianne Maddalena is an American film producer. She is part of a joint venture called Craven-Maddalena Films alongside Wes Craven...

 and Wes Craven
Wes Craven
Wesley Earl "Wes" Craven is an American actor, film director, writer, producer, perhaps best known as the director of many horror films, particularly slasher films, including the famed A Nightmare on Elm Street and Wes Craven's New Nightmare, featuring the iconic Freddy Krueger character, the...

 for the film.

The work has also been used in political humor and in advertisements. During the administration of George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 a popular poster showed the painting with the caption "President Quayle
Dan Quayle
James Danforth "Dan" Quayle served as the 44th Vice President of the United States, serving with President George H. W. Bush . He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from the state of Indiana....

." Bumper stickers were sold in 2004 with the image paired with the caption of "Four More Years?" In August 2006, Masterfoods USA, the maker of M&M's
M&M's
M&M's are dragée-like "colorful button-shaped candies" produced by Mars, Incorporated...

 candies, began using Scream in ads for its dark chocolate
Chocolate
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC...

 variety of candies and offered a reward of two million of the candies for the painting's return. Shortly after the promotion was announced, the painting was recovered. Masterfoods has stated its intention to honor the reward by paying the cash value of the M&M's to Norwegian authorities.

External links

  • Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway
  • Gallery Munch - Løten, Norway
  • Edvard Munch - Biography & Paintings
  • Fineman, Mia (Nov. 22, 2005). "Existential Superstar". Slate (magazine)
    Slate (magazine)
    Slate is a US-based English language online current affairs and culture magazine created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. On 21 December 2004 it was purchased by the Washington Post Company...

    .
  • Munch and The Scream - Discussion in the In Our Time
    In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
    In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 15 October 1998.. It is one of BBC radio's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time"...

    series on the BBC.
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