Edvard Munch's The Scream (Skrik, 1893) is my all time favorite piece of art, and certainly one of the world's most recognizable. Just one look and you are drawn into the fear and agony and terror on the subject's face. But while this piece of art is widely recognized, what is little known is that "The Scream" is actually a series of expressionist paintings by the Norwegian artist, depicting an agonized figure against a blood red skyline. It is said by some to symbolize the human species overwhelmed by an attack of existential angst. The landscape in the background is Oslofjord, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo, Norway.
The Scream has been much used in parody on everything from Shoebox Greeting Cards to fictional television and movie characters--probably most recognizably in The Simpsons and Home Alone.
Munch created several versions of The Scream in various media. The Munch Museum holds one of two painted versions of the piece and one pastel. The National Gallery of Norway holds the other painted version. A fourth version, in pastel, is owned by Norwegian billionaire Petter Olsen. Munch also created a lithograph of the image.
The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later. In 2004, The Scream and Madonna (not the pop singer) were stolen from the Munch Museum. Both paintings were recovered in 2006. They had sustained some damage and are due to go back on display in May 2008, after undergoing restoration.
I have a magnet of The Scream on my refrigerator. It comes in handy. And every once in a while, when it seems like things are a little rough, it's great just to scream as loud as you can for as long as you can. That's my cure for an attack of existential angst. I always feel better after a good scream; I bet you will too.
Thanks for reading.