Thursday, 12 April 2012


This is 'The Scream' (Der Schrei der Natur) which is one of a series of paintings, pastels and lithographs by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, produced over a period from 1893-1910. 

The works, described by art critics as 'masterpieces', were inspired by a walk just outside Oslo taken by the artist with some friends in 1892. He describes the moment of inspiration thus:

"I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

One of the pastels, executed in 1895 and currently owned privately by a Norwegian businessman, is to be offered for auction in New York in May. It is thought that it may sell for as much as $80 million.

I can see nothing in it. I don't either like or dislike it. I doubt that I'd want to hang it in my house (although clearly, and for obvious reasons, I wouldn't say no to one of the originals). 

I wonder what it is that makes it worth $80m... Any ideas?


  1. Tris, the Scream is a howl of frustration, hopelessness and despair at man's inhumanity to man in an otherwise beautiful world.

  2. No idea why its worth so much, probably to do with having something unique.

    I do know that each christmas at work, I print an A4 copy of it and bluetack it above my desk so people know not to approach with any of their bubbly faux xmas cheer.

    I also know that the story given by Edvard Munch about feeling nature let out a howl of despair is actually not true. Much of the description in terms of the setting sun, licks of firey cloud and the blue-black fjord are correct. However the reason for his trembling anxiety was because he'd dropped his house keys down a drain.

    Obviously that shtick doesn't sell for 80 million smacks hence the 'infinite scream passing through nature'.

  3. Good Lord, John... (note the comma, you haven't been elevated), you've just shattered one of my few remaining dreams... that at least in Norway, man wasn't dreadfully inhuman to man.

  4. Pa: You and I would get on famously at Christmas. I too hate the way that people send cards to, and wish happy Christmas to, people they not only don't like, but actively hate (in some cases with good reason).

    And no, it's not the magic of Christmas bringing them together; if it were they wouldn't haver been spitting feathers about them 2 minutes before they delivered the card and 2 minutes after.

    If ever there was a commercially inspired waste of money it's Christmas.

    I was thinking last year, if everyone just gave 10% of what they normally spend in this festival of greed, to charity and used the rest to pay off their debts, the world would be an altogether better place.

    Oh well, humbug and what have you... But I can see how the painting would come in useful for that. I might put in a bid for it, although I think $80m is bit beyond the means, even at this time of the month.

  5. Tris,

    Agree with you over the christmas nonsense but I suspect Pa Broon keeps it there all year - grumpy old sod.

  6. LOL John....

    If you find out where he works we can break in, steal it and that $40m each... OK?

  7. There's far to much hilarity here.

    I'm off to BBC news online to reset my sense of perspective.


  8. Ah well, you'll get a nice balanced perspective over there, Pa. Do feel free to let us know what they've managed to distort today...