Screaming for Munch
artists painted visions of loveliness that could make anyone smile. Others, like
Edvard Munch, created nightmares that could make you scream.
Influential Norwegian painter Edvard Munch is best known for his dark,
emotional images. Born in 1863, Munch was raised by his father as his mother
died when she was relatively young. A severe man, Munch's father
instilled in his son a strong fear of going to hell. This fear
stayed with the artist his entire life. However, illness spread throughout
Munch's family, and his father as well as three other siblings passed away
within a short period of time.
Munch used thick brushstrokes and deep colors to depict his state of mind. His work was so dark that some
even question whether Munch himself suffered from
serious mental illness. His most famous painting, The Scream (1893),
portrays a lone figure on a
bridge, crying out in anguish.
Much of Munch's life was covered by a gloomy shadow of sickness and misery due
to his parents'' and siblings'' deaths. It was in this state of loneliness and
anxiety that he was inspired to
paint The Scream. In his discussion of this image, he recalled the "blood-red"
sunset he saw as he was out walking and the fear he felt running through his
body. These strong emotions certainly come through and impose a similar feeling
on any viewer.
This painting has become a cultural icon that many non-experts
are familiar with. It has been
stolen twice. Most recently, in August 2004, robbers held guards at a Norwegian
museum at gunpoint, making away with The Scream and another
Munch painting. Combined, the two paintings are worth an estimated $100 million. A little over two years to
the date of their theft, police recovered both pieces. The paintings only had
minor damage. In comparison, the
thieves responsible received four- and eight-year sentences behind bars.