January’s British Journal of Psychiatry has another short article in its fantastic ‘100 words’ series, this time on Edvard Munch’s classic painting ‘The Scream‘.
The image is perhaps one of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century and has spurned as many parodies and light-hearted take offs as straight-up tributes.
However, the BJP piece manages to capture the emotional essence of the original:
Edvard Munch is best known for The Scream, 1893, an image endlessly reproduced in the media to depict mental anguish. Explanations of the meaning behind the image abound, mainly focusing on an outpouring of emotion in response to suffering. Munch’s own explanation is revealed in his diaries, which recall the melancholy of a walk along a bridge with friends. Trembling in fear at the fiery sunset, he sensed ‘how an infinite scream was going through the whole of nature’. This dehumanised figure, into which viewers project their own neuroses, is not screaming but blocking out the scream of its existence.
Link to BJP on ‘The Scream – 100 words’.