A minor rant about Munch's "The Scream"

I’m getting heartily sick of seeing ignorant news reports saying that this painting “depicts a figure screaming”.

You know:


It doesn’t. Do these people understand the painting at all?

No? Well, perhaps Mr Munch can explain it to them:

The “Scream” in the title is a scream of despair sensed by the figure. He is not screaming. OK? Got it? Thank you.

“One evening I was walking along a path, the city on one side of me and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out across the fjord-the sun was setting, the clouds were turning blood-red. I felt a scream passing through nature-it seemed to me that I could hear the scream.I painted this picture, painted the clouds as real blood. The colours screamed.”

Or perhaps the colours screamed. From this site .

And now the essence of his work can be reduced to two keystrokes and one mouse click, typed in the space of 2 seconds and immediately viewable by anyone in the world with an internet connection.


However, the full Munch experience needs a bit more work:



Incidentally, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I first discovered that Munch’s surname didn’t rhyme with “lunch”.

I used to really love this painting, but it’s been so overexposed that it’s more like a comic strip to me anymore. Absence makes the heart grow fonder (or something).

Neither Munch’s nor your explanation of the picture changes the fact that the picture depicts a figure screaming. What the picture means to the viewers is up to them.

Familiarity breeds contempt?

Both of those work.

And I agree with Bnorton. It DOES depict a figure screaming. Either that, or he’s saying, “Uh-oh. I forgot my ears.”

An absolute brilliant painting, but I never saw the figure as screaming. Looking at it again now, something about the hands doesn’t strike me as someone screaming. Unless it’s about a hysterical woman who just spotted a mouse - which I somehow doubt - I don’t think a person screaming would hold his hands like that. I see the person as an introvert all emotion going on the inside not as somebody making strong outwards show of feeling. I think the face just depict a grimace of a person in the clutches of a deep personal despair.

But I absolutely agree. Everybody is entitled to their own interpretation. The painting obviously should have been titled: “The Scream. (YMMV)”

Bollocks. He’s not screaming. Look at the picture. Read Munch’s explanation. Are you saying he didn’t know what he was painting?

Interesting. How come you gave your guy nipples?

Anway, I reckon Munch stole his ideas off Salad Fingers.

Hey, freedom of expression, okay?

(Er, actually I needed some kind of spacing device because double spaces collapse to one and mess up the alignment :o )

Munch’s comment regarding the painting is as open to interpretation as is the painting itself. The statement that “I sensed a great, infinite scream pass through nature” says nothing about what he painted in order to capture that feeling.

Munch was trying to caputre a *feeling * via a painting. The painting depicts a figure on a bridge, hands to the side of his face, and an open mouth. It is true that there is no little cartoon bubble going “yeowwwww” so we can’t be sure what sound the figure is making. I suppose he could be yawning, but since the title is “The Scream” it’s safe to assume that that is what is he is doing.

A “figure screaming” is in fact what the picture depicts. What that depiction means is something else altogether.

Maybe they can fix that in Photoshop; darken it up a little or something…

There is no “figure screaming.” There is a figure with its mouth and eyes wide open, like the smiley that people in this thread are using. Is the smiley screaming? No. Is Munch’s figure screaming? No. It’s shocked and terrified, but it’s not screaming.

No, it doesn’t, because the title is not “Figure Screaming” or “Man Screaming” or “Guy Screaming”. It’s just “The Scream”. Maybe he’s hearing a scream; maybe he’s feeling a scream coming on; maybe the scream is internal or figurative or whatever you’d like to interpret.

You’re free to think that what you see is depicting a scream, but that doesn’t make you any more right than the people you’re disputing who argue otherwise.

You got somethin’ against nipples?

It is with deep regret that we, the uneducated masses, have continually mistaken an open mouthed figure in a painting titled “The Scream” to be, in fact screaming. On behalf of us, the unsophisticated hordes, we offer our most shallow of apologies.

Damn art fucks

Are we sure that the person depicted in the painting is in fact the narrator, or could it be that the figure is a personification of ‘the colours screaming’ (or ‘nature screaming’) - in which case it would not be entirely incorrect to say that it depicts a person (or a ‘figure’) screaming.