Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Scream, You Scream: Edvard Munch's The Scream

Edvard Munch created four versions of The Scream, his potent, angst-ridden image. Three are in Oslo museums but one, a pastel dating from 1895, has remained in private hands. In May, it will be sold at Sotheby's in New York. Sotheby's estimate is available on request, but The New York Times reported in February that this could sell for in excess of $80 million. Iconic works like this from major artists don't come up for sale that often, and they don't come cheap.

I'm surprised to see the early date on this work, as The Scream strikes me as a quintessential 20th century image. Yet Munch created this two decades before the horrors of the first World War. The horror, it seems, was personal, and not yet universal. In that sense it reminds me of Thomas Hardy's turn-of-the-century poem "The Darkling Thrush," presciently anticipating the bleak world to come.

The present work is a pastel on board dating from 1895:
Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1895

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893
Munch-Museet, Oslo

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893
National Gallery, Oslo

Edvard Munch, The Scream, c. 1910
Munch-Museet, Oslo
The Sotheby's online catalogue listing:
Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1895

         May 2, 2012:  Sold for $119,922,500, a world record for a work of art at auction

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[End of Sotheby's catalogue listing]

Here is an 1895 lithograph from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This print is not part of the Sotheby's listing:
The Scream, 1895
Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863–1944)
image: 14 1/16 x 9 5/16 in. (35.7 x 23.6 cm); sheet: 20 1/4 x 15 5/8 in. (51.4 x 39.7 cm)
Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982 (1984.1203.1)
NOT ON VIEW   Last Updated April 13, 2012

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1895

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1895, detail

Edvard Munch's The Scream 

goes on display in London

'The Scream' Auctioned 

for $119.9M in NYC

Note:  You can see another of Andy Warhol's versions of The Scream here. I think Warhol remains true to its spirit, even without having experienced the same degree of torment and isolation.

You might also like my post on Munch's Madonna here.


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