If Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” isn’t enough to create the anxiety within you that it was intended to invoke, then its $119,922,500 price tag should do it. The iconic work Munch produced in 1895 is supposed to be a reflection of an anxious society on the verge of a new century. I guess that’s why it continues to entrance people. Last week “The Scream” broke a world record, becoming the most expensive artwork sold at an auction conducted by Sotheby’s. The figure in the drawing – which is actually a pastel on board and not classified as a painting – is said to be man holding his head and hollering beneath a blood-red sky. I’ve always thought it looks like an androgynous cretin drawn by an angry kindergartener. But, if people in 1890’s Europe were angst-ridden, then I’d hate to see their reaction in early 21st century America.
Munch described his inspiration for the drawing:
“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city. My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
And, of course, being the good artist he was, Munch let his dreams move his hand. Who says artists aren’t human?