Thursday, January 12, 2012

Art and Nature: The Scream of Nature by Edvard Munch (3 of 3)

The two paintings reflect different times in Munch’s life.  The artist painted the 1893 version whilst in the throes of poverty, drugs, and nihilistic living.  Seventeen years later, Munch had fought his way back from the brink of insanity and perpetual drunkenness.  The 1910 version is his mature perspective looking back on his original experience as a young man.  He divorces his original experience from his emotion.  Now, Munch paints the pure emotions of fear, dread, and insanity.

Edvard Munch said of his art, “It’s not the chair that should be painted, but what a person has felt at the sight of it.”  He wrote about his view on life, “Without anxiety and [mental] illness, I am a ship without a rudder…My sufferings are part of myself and my art.  They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art.”

Reviewing Munch’s artistic statements, I believe that the 1910 version succeeds in what he wanted for his art.  Instead of a graphic representation of the emotions of fear and dread, Munch captures the pure feeling of the soul shattering beyond repair.  The 1910 version draws the observer in and pins them down.  The scream erupts from within us for we are the scream itself.

Unlike the 1893 version, the 1910 painting burrows itself into our inner being.  We cannot separate ourselves from the 1910 version like we can with the 1893 version.  We cannot escape the moment of this painting.  We frantically grasp at the faraway witnesses only to fall back into the abyss.  The scream then erupts from the abrupt breaking of our soul.

Works Used
Bartel, Martin, “An Art Teacher’s Guide to Critique Art Work”, Goshen College, 2008,,

---, “Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth”, Art Institute of Chicago, 2011,,

Boddy-Evans Marion, “All About Painting”,,,

Brookes, Mona, “Drawing With Children”, G.P. Putnam: New York, 1996.

----, “Edvard Munch – Art History”, Edvard Munch Info, 2011,,

Essak, Shelley, “All About Art History”,,,

Fineman, Mia, “EXISTENTIAL SUPERSTAR: Another look at Edvard Munch’s The Scream”,, 22 Nov. 2005,,

---, “Guide to Art History”,, 2009,,

Janson, H.W. and Dora Jane Janson, “The Story of Painting”, Harry N Abrams: New York, 1966.

Lubow, Arthur, “Edvard Munch: Beyond ‘The Scream’”, Smithsonian Magazine, March 2006,,

----, “Understanding Formal Analysis”, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012,,

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