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          In the painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch many different themes coincide within the painting’s array of color.  I could stare at this painting for hours and never truly understand it. Many bad qualities are displayed.   This sadness is conveyed through the colors the artist . I saw how a painting as unrealistic as this could express such a rush of pure emotion. I think the work expresses the loneliness and awful despair felt by Munch, on realization of the natural world in comparison to a single human being. He is tortured by man's insignificance and haunted by his fettered state of mind. His wavy strokes of paint echo the hollow mouth of the figure, creating an ominous shadow of the stream and the hellish streaks of sky from above. The colors are menacing and evocative, creating an air of expectancy in the background. Munch's body has become distorted along with the flow of the river and the skies. This is a painting about madness and despair and the collapse of one's universe and sanity. This shows all of his emotions flying out. Also the colours are bright, mostly reds and oranges, both of which are colours associated with pain and anguish. Indeed, this is a painting that could only be produced by someone who knew madness and was probably mad himself. The painting showed a hairless, oppressed creature with a head like an inverted pear, its hands clapped in horror to its ears, its mouth open in a vast, soundless scream. Twisted ripples of the creature's torment, echoes of its cry, flooded out into the air surrounding it. The creature covered its ears against its own sound. The creature stood on a bridge and no one else was present as the creature screamed in isolation. What strikes me about this painting is the normality of everything else besides the man screaming. It's a sort of inner scream we all feel sometimes when an agony that we must keep silent about comes to a head. Unless we are insane, we keep the resulting desire to scream in despair and fear inside. We are torn apart inside while outside everything goes on as normal. This painting captures both the inner scream and the normality around us as nothing I have seen before. It is certainly a candid comment on life and on being human. Look at the rapid swirling motion of the landscape, and the wild colors Munch has used. There is so much action going on in this painting, and then amongst all the chaos, standing in the center of the piece is our subject; simply depicted, no extreme facial features, standing, screaming.
          The scream", portrayed anxiety, fear and despair, not only in the shrieking figure, but also the tormented sky. Munch describes an experience which brought him to paint this master piece: As Munch once explained about the painting, "I was walking on a street with two friends, when the sun appeared suddenly, the sky changed to red like blood. I stopped, leaned on a wall to rest, from an unexplainable exhaustion. Fire tongues and blood spread on fiord blackish-blue. My friends kept on walking, while I was left behind, trembling with fear and I felt an enormous scream, infinity, of nature.”
          The style of the painting is wavy as if in a dreamlike state, and there is someone approaching in the background dressed all in black. Maybe Munch thought that Death was approaching him. I know of no other picture that has such an authentic way of expressing so directly the phenomenon of fear as an existential human condition. What we see in this painting is not merely a picture of a landscape, but rather a state of mind that is both curious and disturbing. A crimson sky looms above the dark, sinuous figure on the pier. Clasping his hands to his face, he stares out of the painting with a look of terror and almost a plea for help.
          It is indeed a curious piece. The sky is not really that of a sunset, but more of the blood red Munch described. The yellow, a horrid mustard, counteracts the red causing the sky to look more like it is burning than setting. The land becomes this watery blue where we expect brown.
         Overall, the painting makes for a psychologically disturbing sight. We recognise the position the figure is in. It is a position we often see people in asylums in. We feel disturbed through the distorted landscape and tension when we cross over to the straightness of the bridge. The painting in its composition, colour, and brush marks creates the emotion Munch hoped to achieve, complete despair. But yet all the colors and lines form together to make the painting look like a fictional place. Maybe this is why some people say most artists are crazy.

This page was last updated on 06 June 2013
Copyright Randy Rambo