The impact of The Scream on the artistic world is clear when you notice the many times the Munch painting is referred to in other works.

Andy Warhol and Erró are the two artists who quote Munch's The Scream in a most direct manner.

Andy Warhol
Warhol's pop version of The Scream (same name, 1983) is part of a series in which he reproduces a number of Munch's main works such as Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm. The Scream stands among the others as an icon of the modern experience of being alone in the crowd. The painting fits into other of Warhol's works about negative feelings (particularly death), such as the Marilyns and Death and Disaster series.

The Munch Museet in Oslo confirms the impact of Warhol's copy:

As with other masterpieces from the history of art such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Warhol exploits the status of The Scream as an icon, an aspect of the work he underlines by re-using it. Yet at the same time he devalues its originality, because by contrast with the painting, the silk print can be endlessly mass-produced. In the context of the consumer society mimicked by pop-art, he questions art as a consumer product.

Other clear variations on The Scream are by fellow pop artist Erró, who had to add a critical and satirical twist. In his 1979 Ding Dong, he copies Munch's work into comic-like features. In The Scream, also part of the Oslo Munch Museet collection, the scream is accompanied by a group of children in a school playground in a completely different art style. In The Second Scream, the cry is put together with an airplane, which experts think to be a reference to the occupation of Norway and possibly even the horrors of World War II.

Jon Gundersen
An interesting and very creative variation on Munch's The Scream has been produced by Norwegian Jon Gundersen. When you enter the Munch Museet, the first work you will notice is in the reception hall of the building (called Psykoplasma, 1999). It's The Scream with a hole in it. A time scheduled machinery (based on a bike upside down) makes sure the central, screaming person in the painting blows some soap bubbles every now and then.

One of Edvard Munch's (1863-1944) best known version of The Scream is a 20" x 15 3/16 " lithograph housed at this time at The Art Institute of Chicago. Munch, a Norwegian painter and graphic artist, had unmediated and specific ideas that he related in his many works:

I painted picture after picture after the impressions that my eye took in at moments of emotion--painted lines and colors that showed themselves on my inner eye......I painted only the memories without adding anything--without details I could no longer see...By painting colors and lines and shapes that I had seen in an emotional mood I wanted the emotional mood to ring out again as happens on a gramophone.

The tone of scene is set by the foreground figure as a focal point grotesquely distorted. The facial expression is repeated in repercussions again and again from different angles in the dynamics of his characteristic style of flattened color patches, swirling line and repetitive symbolic images in the background.

Munch beliefs were based in the Romantics. He felt deeply the pain of human life that humans were powerless before the greatness of nature and its forces of love and death became thematic throughout a majority of his art. Frequently he would repeat the same composition in different mediums such as oil paintings, as a woodcut, or lithograph. He was very effective in using black and white as a stark contrast. His greatness in this work is not only the disquieting look at neurotic panic breaking forth in a terrible yet silent scream but the fact that this cracking under prolonged anxiety has indeed been identified with and 'rung out again' by so many others well known artists some of whom have been mentioned in the previous write up. Typically pluralistic in style for the times, it is a symbolistic work with the first hints of what was to become expressionism.

Impacted by Paul Gauguin's devices, the use of color and strong patterns as well as using print media, Munch echoed these influences through his work to the German Expressionists. Like his friend the Swedish novelist August Strindberg he portrayed the unbearable portraits of human loneliness that reverberates in modern existentialism as humanly inescapable.

The Scream was painted when he was in his early thirties, at around forty-five, Munch suffered a profound depression and spent eight months in a sanatorium in Denmark. After his illness he no longer painted anxiety-laden subjects matter so central to his work. He began painting everyday subjects with the same vigorous brushwork and expressionistic colors as before. His motives may have been for healing. Many of his lithographs verge on irony, to which he was not averse. Even so, modifying the well-known phrase, it does suggest that 'irony is the courtesy of despair'. Once a moralizing critic of modern man, he later claimed to a friend that he had simultaneously given up women and alcohol as the cause of his depression, irony indeed cannot be ruled out.

You can read more about artists from this era at the Post-Impressionism, Symbolism and Art-Nouveau node.

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