The Scream Essay, Research Paper
For my paper I selected The Scream by Edvard Munch on page 398. Edvard Munch is looked upon as one of the most significant influences on the development of expressionism. Edvard Munch was quoted as saying “We want more than a mere photograph of nature. We do not want to paint pretty pictures to be hung on drawing-room walls. We want to create, or at least lay the foundations of, an art that gives something to humanity. An art that arrests and engages. An art created of one’s innermost heart.” I believe in The Scream Munch did just as he said.
The expressionism period was a movement to invoke emotions through art work. In The Scream Munch stirs up emotions through his heavy brush work and the use of unnatural colors. The use of red orange or warm colors in the sunset seems to make them advance or stand out. The thick swirling lines of the sunset and the river create the sanitation of movement. Munch relies on atmospheric perspective to create the illusion of depth. The warm colors in the sunset stand out while the cool colors of the river seem to go backwards. The shapes in The Scream are organic, object found in nature, but Munch has distorted this objects to echos causes by the sunken head.
I selected this painting for the fact that it disturbs me and at the same time intrigues me. In an interview about the painting Munch said ” I was walking along the road with two friends- watching the sunset- the sky suddenly turned red as blood- I stopped, leant against the fence, deadly tired- my friends walked on and I was left, trembling with fear- and I could feel an infinite scream passing through the landscape.”
Edvard Munch’s emotional unbalance is a great credit to his work. In 1908, Munch had a nervous breakdown, a culmination of his anxiety and fears going all the way back to his childhood. During the years pervious to this he had experienced some of the most extreme emotions humans can. At age 5, his mother died and at 14 , his favorite sister, Sophie dies as well. Tuberculosis entered his childhood bring him horrid visions of death, pain, paranoia, and despair.
It was with these emotions Munch eventually, in 1893, brought to the canvas of The Scream. He tried to create the all encompassing emotion of total complete undeniable despair. When all hope is gone; when death is eventual; when the world seems to be completely aganist you and there is nothing you can do about any of it. The Scream displays the despair of life as he had experienced one day while walking with his friends. As he has written himself “I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun set. I felt a tinge of melancholy. Suddenly the sky became a bloody red. I stopped, leaned aganist the railing, dead tired, and I looked at the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the blue-black fjord and the city. My friends walked on. I stood there, trembling with fright. And I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature.”
How did Munch achieve sunch an enormously disturbing effect? Looking at it we see a deformed screaming figure in the foreground standing on a long straight bridge receding into the distance. Two tall erect men in the distance walk away from the figure. The background is a distortrf view of a fjord. Long swirling, curved lines form the coast. The water is a murky yellow, while the land, a deep blue. The sky, with its streaks of red and orange speak of a sun that has just set.
It is inded a curious piece. The sky is not really that of a sunset, but more of the bllod red Munch described. The yekllow, a horrid mustard, conteracts the red causing the skyt to look more like it is burning than setting. The land becomes this watery blue where we expect brown. Yet it seems to blend into the picture by changing color as it swirls around to the sea green hills. A color we almost expect. A buldous form in thre right hand part of the backgropund is painted an almost flesh color with streaks of green and blue, the same color as the boards of the bridge. This makes the figure in the foreground stay in the center of the canvas while also bringing it forward. The water is an ugly yellow with the only feature making it recognisable as water being the ships sailing atop it. The figure is dressed in a greenish black garment, it flesh being a sickly tan. The bridge and men walking in the background appear in normal color, in contrast to the rest of the picture.
Besides the peculiar colors in the piece, the brushstrokes make foe a curious effect. The curving landscape is contrasted with the long straight bridge and firm upright people in the background. Nature versus man. The figure in this way becomes a part of nature as it curves around toward an S shape. But nature in respect is becoming part of the figure as it takes on the mood, through its brushstrokes and color, of the screaming figure.
Overall, the painting makes for a psychologically disturbing sight. We recognise the position the figure is in. The hands over the ears screaming. It is a position we often see people in an asylum do. We feel disturbed through the distroted landscape and tension when we cross over to the straightness of the bridge. The painting in its composition, color and brush marks creats the emotion Munch hoped to achieve, complete depair.
We also enjoy the painting, because at times we feel the exact same way and we like to know other people do. Perhaps it was only when you were a child lost in the store that the store turned monstrous and all hope was lost of ever finding your mother. Or perhaps later on. We have all felt the emotion to some degree in our life, and so, though we are disturbed by the painting, we are likewise drawn to it.