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The Scream

From Edvard Munch to today

I was walking along the road 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

The Scream — Skrik — is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. The German title Edvard gave these works is Der Schrei der Natur — The Scream of Nature. The works show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky.

Among theories advanced to account for that sky is the artist’s memory of the effects of the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, which deeply tinted sunset skies red in parts of the Western hemisphere for months during 1883 and 1884, about a decade before Edvard painted his Scream.

Arthur Lubow has described the work as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time.” And as such, it wasn’t spared the stream of interpretation of all kinds, including a funny short animation movie by Sebastian Cosor.

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