18 March 2009


I was going to use Munch's The Scream to introduce a post about AIG, but I can't bring myself to write it. For one thing, the AIG debacle is covered everywhere on the web and the MSM media, so my efforts would just be duplicative. And it's frankly no fun to blog gloom and doom and outrage all the time.

Still, it's a nice image, and it offers a different teaching point. The other night I was watching a BBC program, The Private Life of a Masterpiece, on DVD. The segment was about this painting, and I learned to my surprise, that the "scream" referred to in the painting is NOT coming from the man in the foreground.

I had always assumed that the man was screaming.

He's not. He's covering his ears to shut out a scream that's coming from the environment around him. I won't go into any more detail here; there are many places on the web to read about how to interpret the painting.

You learn something every day.


  1. a scream? or perhaps an awakening to something so horrible and unbelievable

  2. I always thought the man was screaming, also. Thanks for the education!

  3. He's got his mouth wide open, so he looks like he's screaming back at nature.

  4. Sorry, but did someone ask Munch if the man is screaming? I have always thought his hands were cupping his face in despair as he screams. I hope this interpretation wasn't just created by a high school art teacher desperately trying to draw more out of the work than the artist had intended. Or even an art critic. Can they definitively say that he is not screaming? Don't get me wrong, I like the fact that there are different interpretations and that it opens up a debate about the subject. And admittedly, I've not read more than this article and I may soon find a piece by Munch himslef, declaring the meaning of his work. Off to do some more research...

    1. The answer to your question is in a more recent post -


      - describing one of his "scream" works:

      "...its frame, inscribed with the original 1892 poem MUNCH WROTE that is said to have inspired the work. In it, HE DESCRIBES WALKING ALONG that fiord, "trembling with anxiety" and SENSING "AN INFINITE SCREAM PASSING THROUGH NATURE."

      (caps mine for emphasis). Please let us know if your research turns up anything else relevant.


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