Why the long face? The Scream

The Scream is one of the most famous artworks on the planet. Almost everyone of us must have seen it somewhere or the other. Either in memes or maybe on some educational TV channel but very little population knows the name of the artist or even the name of the painting itself. 

Figure on cliffside walkway holding head with hands

Edward Munch

The Scream is an artwork by the Norwegian artist Edward Munch completed in 1893.

Munch was a painter and printmaker born in Norway in 1863. His paintings were greatly inspired by the expressionism movement and symbolism. All his paintings  had a certain underlying psychological tone to it which is hard to miss. Munch had a miserable childhood, and that misery manifested itself later in his paintings. His mother and sister died of tuberculosis while he was very young and later, still at a young age he lost his father and his brother too. Death and gloom always meandered around him and followed him everywhere. Another sister of his suffered from mental illness too.

To understand a piece of art it is important to understand the artist, his experiences, his life to be able to get as close to meaning the artist was trying to show because there is no possible way that we can fully understand an artist’s psyche at the time of making it even though art is interpretive.Munch depicted raw and violent emotions in his work

The scream is an autobiographical work of art where while he was walking along a path one evening with a fjord below, feeling tired and ill, when looked over the fjord the scene looked to him as if blood was covering the sky. He felt a scream coursing through the clouds. Munch had a history of ill mental health in his family and during that evening it is possible that he heard the scream inside his own head.Soon after painting The Scream abandoned this style and barely went back to it.


A work of art doesn’t become famous just because of the beauty or the skill behind it but a multitude of things influence it’s popularity like what it represents, political environment, controversies it was involved in.

Similarly this painting is not just famous for its artistic grandeur but it was in the news a lot due to the thefts.

In 1994 thieves broke into a museum in Oslo and stole the painting also leaving a note that read thanks for the poor security and demanded 1 million USD as ransom which was refused. About 3 months later the two men were caught as a result of the sting operation carried out by the Norwegian police.

In 2004, a 1910 version of The Scream was stolen from the Munch museum in broad daylight by two masked gunmen who stole The Scream and Madonna by Munch. The Munch museum was closed for 10 months after the incident for security reasons. It took about 2 years for the Norwegian government to recover the two paintings with some major damage to the paintings which were recovered later.

Categories: Education, Education

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