SHARE
COPY LINK

EDVARD MUNCH

Edvard Munch’s ‘Scream’ to go under the hammer

A version of "The Scream", one of the world's most famous paintings and an iconic image of despair, will go on sale this May in New York, where it is expected to fetch at least $80 million, Sotheby's auctioneers said on Tuesday.

Edvard Munch's 'Scream' to go under the hammer

Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of "Scream" painter Edvard Munch, owns the work, which will go on the block in New York on May 2nd, headlining the Impressionist and Modern Art sales.

Sotheby's described "The Scream" as "one of the most instantly recognizable images in both art history and popular culture, perhaps second only to the 'Mona Lisa.'"

There are four versions of the painting, which features a man screaming and clutching his head against a wavy, brightly-coloured landscape, but this is the only one in private hands.

The influence of the disturbing picture, described by Munch as recording a moment of paralyzing anxiety during a walk with friends in the hills above Oslo, has few parallels.

Andy Warhol and "The Simpsons" reference the painting and it has been treated in countless books, films and exhibitions.

On two occasions, other versions of the painting have been stolen from museums, although both were recovered. Copies have adorned everything from student dorms to tea mugs and the work is arguably one of the few known equally to art experts and the general public alike.

Dating from 1895, "The Scream" offered by Sotheby's was done in pastel and is the only one in which one of the two figures in the background turns to look outward. The work will be exhibited at Sotheby's in London on April 13th and in New York starting April 27th ahead of the sale.

Simon Shaw, head of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art department in New York, called "The Scream" the "defining image of modernity."

"Instantly recognizable, this is one of very few images which transcends art history and reaches a global consciousness. 'The Scream' arguably embodies even greater power today than when it was conceived," he said in a statement.

Olsen said in a statement that he wants proceeds from the sale to go toward establishment of a new museum and hotel on his farm in Hvitsten, Norway.

Munch died in his native Norway in January 1944 at the age of 80. In a poem the artist inscribed on the frame of the version coming up for sale, Munch wrote of feeling "deathly tired" and while letting his friends walk on, "I remained behind/ shivering with Anxiety — I felt the great Scream in Nature."

The two thefts only added to "The Scream's" intensely high profile. In 1994, at the start of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, thieves took the primary version from the National Gallery in Oslo. It was returned unharmed later that year.

A decade later, masked gunmen stole the 1910 version from the Munch Museum in Oslo, along with another of his works. Both were recovered two years later.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

EDVARD MUNCH

‘The Scream’: newly-released Munch originals reveal different look

Surprisingly different initial versions of Norwegian art icon Edvard Munch's signature work 'The Scream' have seen the light of day after over 7,600 sketches, many previously unknown, were published for unrestricted use.

'The Scream': newly-released Munch originals reveal different look
File photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix

Among the released drawings are sketches showing how 'The Scream' looked before the world-famous version, reports Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.

Over a hundred years on from a fateful stroll in Oslo's Ekeburg, when a blood-red sunset gave Edvard Munch the inspiration for what later became the work for which he is arguably best known, the Munch Museum is releasing previously unknown sketches and drawings by the Norwegian artist.

The museum is publishing for unrestricted use pictures of all the artist's drawings gathered in a new database, Dagbladet writes.

Among the works being published are also previously unknown sketches for 'The Scream' — a painting that was no simple task for Munch, with the database evidencing several attempts.

“We want the art to be available to people everywhere,” director of the Munch Museum Stein Olav Henrichsen told Dagbladet.

“There are especially two reasons why we wanted to digitalise all Munch's drawings. The first reason was that the drawings were unknown. The second was that digitalising the entire collection was truly a dream of ours. Digitalisation is something museums all over the world have struggled with and work towards, and we want Munch to be present in a digital world,” Henrichsen added.

The Munch Museum has received 22 million kroner (2.3 million euros) in support from the Bergesen Foundation, a non-profit foundation benefitting social and humanitarian projects, Dagbladet reports.

Of the 22 million kroner, 12 million has been allocated to digitalisation of the drawings, and 10 million will later be used to digitalise all other works of art, including graphic works, photos, paintings and sculptures. The funds will also finance a new biography on Edvard Munch, which is being launched internationally.

Four art historians have spent four years systemising, scanning and digitalising the drawings. In total, they have entered 7644 drawings into the database.

The collection is available for everyone — Munch's works, including the early versions of 'The Scream', can be searched in the electronic collection available on the Munch Museum's website.

READ ALSO: Weird clouds may have inspired Norwegian 'The Scream': scientists