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Nov 8, 2017 in Analysis

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, which was painted in 1895, is one of the most celebrated and valued works of art in the world today. This is shown by the fact of how this work of art was welcomed by people. For instance, last year in New York it was sold at a world record price of about $119.9 million during an auction. It was sold in just twelve minutes of bidding. This is a clear indication of how valuable the work of art was considered. “The Scream” (1895) was never in the public eye; except for a few times it was presented in the national gallery in Washington, DC. Therefore, “The Scream” (1895) absence from the public view for many decades has contributed to its increase in value and reputation over time.

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Reasons for the Art’s Change in Value and Reputation over Time

The main reason for the huge change in value and reputation since the creation of this work of art in 1895 to its world record price of $119.9 million in 2012 is its serious ‘silence’ (Vogel). It has stayed in private hands for the longest time in history while other versions were observed in the museum. Since its creation in the 20th century, this provocative art has in fact only gained impact and relevance over time. Through the years, “The Scream” has been the subject of numerous articles, books and films; however, a few people had seen this actual piece of art. Keeping it in private hands, and out from public view, left most people anxious and committed to see it (Aspden).

It is clear that this work of art made a world record when it was sold at the highest price ever. The Olsen family, the private owner of the painting acquired it in 1943 at a lower piece comparing with the 2012 auction (Rosenberg). This basically shows the aroused interest through the years of its absence from the public view. The art also gained much respect and love from those who knew about it, which is evident from the number of people who participated in the auction (Aspden). The short time taken to sell the painting also portrayed its popularity among the people.

Despite its absence from the public view, the distinct style and details of “The Scream” (1895) offer the uniqueness to the public to make it special. Munch created four versions of “The Scream” between 1893 and 1910; however, the pastel on board made in 1895, is the remaining one, which was in private hands until its auction (Esaak). The other three versions were sent to the museum in Norway. This work of art is a representation of a hairless figure standing on a bridge, screaming under a yellow-orange sky. Since its creation, “The Scream” has captured numerous imaginations in history, but is incomparable with its recognizable reputation and value that it got lately. This work of art is the most vivacious and colorful of the four versions, and its beauty is intensified due to the poem details that are included to show the work’s inspiration. It is also different from the others because of the two figures in the background, which look outward to the city space (Temkin). The frame had the following inscription, explaining Munch’s inspiration to paint it:

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I was walking along the road with two friends. The Sun was setting –

The Sky turned a bloody red

And I felt a whiff of Melancholy – I stood

Still, deathly tired – over the blue-black

Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire

My Friends walked on – I remained behind

– Shivering with Anxiety – I felt the great Scream in Nature

E.M. (Aspden)

The Society before the Change

The society knew about the four versions of Munich’s “The Scream” versions; however, “The Scream” (1895) received little recognition because of the lack of knowledge in society about this work of art. “People did not totally understand his inspiration and vision when creating them” (Sotheby). This is a reason for the low interest given to the works before; yet, the media has greatly contributed to help people understand the reality of this work. The writings about it gave the society some understanding, and the final presentation of “The Scream” (1895) to the public gave it a change of heart (Vogel). The detailed poem on the frame makes the work of art more unique than the others, since one can simply identify Munch’s inspiration when creating the painting. Without doubt, a more detailed and comprehensible item is bound to draw high attention than an ordinary item (Temkin). Moreover, reading and watching about it in books and films, as well as realizing how different it was from the other versions enhanced its value and reputation. The increase in value and reputation also attributed to its uniqueness. Compared to the other three versions, it is the most interesting piece that having a colorful view and frame and also the most preferred by majority of the readers.

Changes in Culture, Society and Art Responsible for the Positive Acceptance

Lately, society finds this work of art is quite fascinating since most people are able to understand the artist’s perspectives. People have also become more knowledgeable than before and are able to imagine its sense. Many cultures have also incorporated it in their lives, making this work interesting. Cultures and society have incredibly changed over time with regards to this works of art, since most people are now accepting different pieces of art and trying to make meaning out of them. People are appreciating art today, and “The Scream” is just an example of a work of art receiving such appreciation and recognition (Rosenberg). The painting did not actually change, but as the public could not appreciate it for a long time, it became a new and unique work in the public eye. However, people began to be aware of the art’s components they had never seen in the three versions, which made it more attractive and valuable.


Munch’s “The Scream” (1895) is an imaginary work of art that has received great attention among many people. It is one of the most inspirational and disturbing images in the history of art. However, through the years, since its creation in 1895, it has managed to capture the eyes of many people from different cultures, which is proved by the auction bidding. In the previous years, it stayed out of the public view because it was in private collection for about 70 years; however, through the writings and discussions about it in the articles, books and films, “The Scream” (1895) has received great reputation and value through the years making it more respectable, valuable and attractive than ever before. It has unique qualities absent in the other three versions, making it more valuable and reputable that its “sisters.”

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