The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893-1910
Norwegian Symbolist painter, Edvard Munch (1863-1944), was an important forerunner of expressionism, and best known for his series of expressionist paintings and prints entitled The Scream. The Scream depicts an anguished figure against a backdrop of a fiery red sky and the Oslofjord. Munch painted this series in various media, including oil, tempera, and pastel and also created a lithograph in 1910. In his diary headed Nice.22.01.1892, Munch himself explained the inspiration for his painting, "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 ". The central character is sexless and has often been compared to an individual suffering from Depersonalization disorder, which includes a feeling of disorientation of one's self and the environment. Munch suffered from agoraphobia, or a fear of open spaces and public places, which might explain why the vast open space in the background gives the feeling of being overwhelming. The figure is thought by some to represent the existential angst of the modern man. The Scream is one of the few modern art works instantly recognizable to the public, having acquired iconic status in the popular culture of the late 20th century. It has been used in films, advertising and on television. Wes Craven's horror movie trilogy Scream has the murderer wearing a mask inspired by the painting. The Scream has been parodied often, Andy Warhol did a series of silk prints in 1983-1984 that included the painting, making it a mass-reproduced piece of art and thereby desacralizing the painting. Munch himself also started that process when he made a lithograph for reproduction in 1910. The Scream series has also been targeted in several fairly recent art thefts, including when one was stolen for several months from the National Gallery of Norway in 1994 and again when another was taken for almost two years from the Munch Museum in 2004.