View From The Bridge: Munch’s “Scream”

“Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!! ”  We Won’t Get Fooled Again, The Who.

Edvard Munch painted it over a century ago.  Even then, he must have anticipated The Scream’s  potential to become an icon for the ages.  He painted at least four versions.  Three hang in museums.  And as reported on NPR this morning, the fourth, in private hands, goes on the auction block today.  It could fetch upwards of $80 million. www.npr.org/2012/05/02/151706441/scream-still-echoes-after-more-than-a-century

The primal image of a figure on a bridge, standing under the swirl of a blood-red sky, hands clutched over the ears, mouth agape in a silent wail of terror,  is perhaps the purest and most succinct expression of humanity’s panicked premonition of the horrific events about to unfold as the 20th century loomed.

It also makes for a great satire and advertising fodder.  The Scream has been employed, adapted, reworked, and reimagined so many times that it has entered into the realm of cliché.   Warhol gave it his Factory treatment, M & M’s used it in an ad campaign, and John Hughes paid homage to it in “Home Alone,” having young Macauley Culkin mimic the “Screamer’s” pose when his character, Kevin, splashes himself with astringent after shave.

So today, as Southeby prepares to collect a hefty commission for hawking The Scream, art critics and art lovers can pay homage to Munch and his tortured genius.  Advertisers and merchandisers, on the other hand, can give thanks to the public domain, which makes iconic images such as The Scream and The Mona Lisa, fair game for commercial use.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”   Edvard Munch

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