The Scream by Edvard Munch Painting Analysis Essay (2023)

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(Video) The Scream: Great Art Explained

In the late 1800s, artists altered their techniques and systems of presenting art to represent specific ideas in society. For instance, Edvard Munch (Norwegian artist) created The Scream Painting in 1893, a prominent example of using revolutionary art techniques to represent depth in art. He utilized compositional tools to make The Scream Painting emanate and evoke emotions that mentally push the viewer into being in touch with their internal struggles and existential crises. Consequently, the radical artwork profoundly affected societal consciousness.

(Video) The Scream by Edvard Munch || Painting Analysis

Munch employs compositional tools in The Scream Painting that define the three crucial regions that make up the artwork: the foreground containing the bridge, while the sky and the landscape (holds the fjord and the shoreline) are in the background. In the foreground, there is a steep bridge with two individuals that seem to be fading. These enigmatic figures create stress for the spectator since they are faceless with missing body parts. The different shades of dark blue and black color also add to the fading effect of the individuals, building stress, as it makes the viewer debate whether to analyze their role in the painting or ignore the detail. Furthermore, the striation developed by the different textures, lines, and colors (blue, black, white, and orange) enhances stress as it makes the bridge appear steep, pushing the dark individuals more visually distanced from the spectator.

(Video) Visual Analysis of Edvard Munch's The Scream

In contrast to the fading individuals, as the observer looks halfway and horizontally across the painting, then vertically down, the central individual is lucid and leveled with the entire composition to provide visual balance, with their face, position, and most of their upper body becomes evident. This ambiguously screaming figure, although visible, also contains stress in its structure _ serving as a positive space. From a distant point of view, there is a curvature in the lining of the body, face, and elongated hands _ despite the missing lower portion of the body that visually dehumanizes the figure. On the other hand, through perusing the individual from a close distance, Munch not only uses humanistic features _ but includes unrealistic elements to define the central individual's face. Specifically, one can see the eyes, nose, and hollow-shaped mouth that define the human aspect of their body. Simultaneously, there is grouping in different shades of yellow and grey color ensconced the individual's forehead that creates an energy-like fire; which would not appear in an existing person's face. The amalgamation of the grouped colors with the textured white stray marks on the individual's jaw line creates an image where the texture of the stray marks looks electric, bending and guiding the fire-like energy into the individual's head(brain). Therefore, the complex structure of the central figure from a closer look creates an attraction; since the individual's forehead appears to be melting from the fire-like energy being pushed in deeper into the forehead by the electric-like white strays.

(Video) Munch's Silent Scream

Next, just like the foreground, the background contains compositional tools that define those areas and develop attractions for the viewer. In The Scream Painting, the sky-like region in the background _ holds different shades of distinct colors: blue, white, orange, grey, and red that develop visual stress. Although there may be fluidity in the direction of colors, there's visual stress because of the systematic clashing of colors, textures, art mediums, and the width of different sections. This process of sharpening this area of the painting attracts the viewer's eye to the background, zooming in on the "momentary intensity of the landscape with brightly saturated, contrasting colors" (Meaning of The Scream (1893) Painting by Edvard Munch: Art Analysis). In contrast to the sky, the landscape with the shoreline and the fjord demarcates the colors: yellow, blue, black, grey, peach, and orange, and medium textures in a system of distinct curvatures that fade into the background; just like the two faceless individuals on the bridge. The combination of the area taken up by the shoreline and the fjord appears to be a negative space; since it has no significant element to attract the viewers' attention, with its mostly fading art mediums. Hence, the strategy of adding this negative space (in the background) and following the fjord's direction to the center of the artwork pushes the viewer's focus to the lower left of the composition (the bridge), near the central individual of the painting(foreground).

(Video) Compositional Analysis of Munch’s The Scream

As noted, the merging of the foreground and the background through Munch's use of compositional tools made The Scream Painting a revolutionary piece of art; since it gives it depth in society's eyes. In particular, The Scream Painting ingrains the idea that internal struggles and suffering do not discriminate by gender: it is a part of human nature. The artist constructed the painting with this underlying idea by taking inspiration from his personally aroused experience with agony. Specifically, while observing a vivid sunset, Munch became overwhelmed by his inner growing exhaustion and anxiety; and decided to visually portray the emotions that existentially encapsulated him at that moment. The act of planning and illustrating this moment using oil on canvas served as a coping mechanism to release his bottled feelings of loneliness and internal crises. To expound this, Munch utilizes intensively bright colors and bold, fluid paint strokes to convey an "honest and perhaps even ugly glimpse into his inner troubles and feelings of anxiety" (Meaning of The Scream (1893) Painting by Edvard Munch: Art Analysis). Even the overall balance of the composition, working side by side with the leveling and grouping of colors and different textures, develops a buildup of imagery containing energy that "vibrates with a swirling whirlpool of feeling and emotion... to express his chaotic emotional state" (Meaning of The Scream (1893) Painting by Edvard Munch: Art Analysis). As a result, by allowing himself to be vulnerable and artistically express his emotions, Munch created an artwork that people could deeply connect with on an emotional level. On another level, Munch made the central figure of the painting sexless to deepen the connection between people and The Scream Painting; by making it a relatable image. This technique engenders questions for the viewer since the figure is mysterious. Even "scholars who studied the painting believe that Munch wanted to create a mystery: the sexless person depicted in the painting may be Munch, or it actually may be Munch's sick sister, hospitalized in the asylum nearby" (Meaning of The Scream (1893) Painting by Edvard Munch: Art Analysis). However, this painting may also be Munch trying to make a holistic statement or commentary about society. He may be utilizing his artistic techniques to teach the spectator that raw emotion is a natural human characteristic that defines them; by removing the constraint of gender. This strategy consequently makes the painting less biased, more inspirational, and appealing to society. As a result, this makes the viewer(anyone) aware and accept that human pain and suffering are universal and natural obstacles that encompass a facet of life.

(Video) Formal Analysis Edvard Munch, The Scream

In essence, constructing The Scream painting was an outlet that Edvard Munch used to mentally cope with his internal conflict; while creating a bridge of inspiration for society: to bolster the idea that anxiety and agony are a part of the human experience. He developed a complex set of traps by utilizing compositional tools for the viewer to follow and immerse themselves into a chaotic journey of self-reflection and acceptance of troubled times as a part of reality.

(Video) The Scream Visual Analysis

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