Børsum antikvariat, Oslo
Kaare Berntsen, Oslo
Lionel and Sally Epstein Collection, Washington D.C. (acquired from the above circa 1970)
Private Collection, Oslo
Acquired from the above
Gerd Woll, Edvard Munch - The Complete Graphic Work, London and Oslo, 2001, no. 38
First printed in Berlin, the subject also appeared in the December 1, 1895 issue of Paris's La Revue Blanche, a periodical which printed works by avant-garde writers and contemporary printmakers. The Symbolist movement, important in Europe in the late 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century, embraced printmaking as a technique capable of more effectively rendering the expressive and absolute nature of their artistic philosophy which mined for truth in the human soul. The graphic versions of 1895 refine the earlier painted treatments of the subject, emphasizing line over color in the depiction of what Munch called an 'infinite scream through nature.'Munch successfully recaptures the inescapable psychological impact of his colorful, painted works in these linear and monochromatic printed versions. Though a few of the lithographs were printed on red or mauve paper (the red in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts) and others hand-colored in watercolor (Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway), Munch's graphic works were mostly printed on white or cream paper with black ink. In these, he relied on stark contrasts and the potential for tonal subtleties inherent in lithographic technique to create a deeply powerful visual effect. It is the perfect graphic representation of his earlier, written expression of the Scream.
The inscription on the bottom right of the lithograph is printed in German "Ich fühlte das grosse Geschrei durch die Natur" (I felt the great scream throughout nature). The quivering, androgynous figure clutches the sides of its face with oversized hands, the gaping void of its mouth and hollow sockets of its eyes further emphasized by the sinuous lines of its curving form. A series of continuous and curving lines appear to reverberate back and forth from the stark blankness of the paper, further conveying the notion that the scream radiates from the figure in the center throughout nature in the background. The uniformity in color gives a cohesive, even iconic quality to the image, further enhanced by the single word 'Geschrei' (or 'Scream'), which is printed in the bottom center of the sheet below the image. This lithograph, one of only a handful of prints of the subject, at once concise and emotive, encapsulates Edvard Munch's great interest in realizing Symbolism in visual art.
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