Edvard Munch, “The Scream”
In this Expressionistic piece, Munch portrays the deep-rooted human emotion of fear. He creates a distorted image of a man (or woman) standing on a bridge as the sun sets, or rather as the sky appears orange. In this moment of intensity, the human grabs his/her face and shouts. The silhouettes of two people walking and talking together can be observed in the middle ground of the image as they walk on the bridge.
Munch, when discussing his artwork, often refers back to his childhood during which he suffered from both anxiety and depression. Although scarred from being locked in a sanatorium at a young age, Munch never shied away from his psychological problems, but instead claimed, “I will not case off my illness, for there is much in my art that I owe to it” (Strickland 123). “The Scream” seems to embody much of this heightened form of anxiety. Simply, the use of broad and curved brushstrokes relay a message of distortion—just as the feelings of anxiety distort reality both visually and mentally. Offset by the neutrals of brown and beige, the use of the heavily contrasting orange and blue provide further evidence of the feelings anxiety provokes; the harsh colors clash just as the facets of life around this individual clash. The two people together in the background juxtapose the focus of the image who appears to be alone, something else Munch speaks about in his lifetime. “The Scream” seems to embody the essence of Munch himself from the anxiety of his youth to the solitude of his adulthood.