The Scream (created in 1893–1910) is the title of expressionist paintings and prints in a series by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky. The landscape in the background is the Oslofjord, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo (then Kristiania), Norway.
Edvard Munch created several versions of The Scream in various media. The Munch Museum holds one of two painted versions (1910, see gallery) and one pastel. The National Gallery of Norway holds the other painted version (1893, shown to right). A fourth version, in pastel, is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen. Munch also created a lithograph of the image in 1895.
The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later. In 2004, The Scream and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum. Both paintings were recovered in 2006. They had sustained some damage and went back on display in May 2008, after undergoing restoration.
In the late twentieth century, The Scream acquired iconic status in popular culture. It was used on the cover of some editions of Arthur Janov’s book The Primal Scream. In 1983–1984, pop artist Andy Warhol made a series of silk prints of works by Munch, including Scream. The idea was to desacralize the painting by making it into a mass-reproducible object, though Munch had already begun that process himself, by making a lithograph of the work for reproduction. Furthermore, characteristic of post-modern art is Erró’s ironic and irreverent treatment of Munch’s masterpiece in his acrylic paintings The Second Scream (1967) and Ding Dong (1979). Cartoonist Gary Larson included a “tribute” to The Scream (entitled The Howl) in his “Wiener Dog Art” painting and cartoon compilation, in which the central figure is replaced by a howling dachshund.
As one of very few works of modern art that are instantly recognizable to a broad audience, Scream has been used in advertising, in cartoons, such as The Simpsons, and films and on TV. Ghostface, the murderer in Wes Craven’s Scream horror movies, wears a Halloween mask inspired by the central figure in the painting, and reproductions can be found at various retail stores during Halloween. The Tormented Soul head miniature from Mage Knight collectable miniatures game also resembles the expression of the picture.
The main character, Rick Deckard, in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? stops and contemplates the painting at an Edvard Munch Museum. “The painting showed a hairless, oppressed creature with a head like an inverted pear, its hands clapped in horror to its ears, its mouth open in a vast, soundless scream.”
via The Scream