You have seen it everywhere, inspiring characters from Ghostface to Homer Simpson. But what would you say if someone were to ask you what it is all about?

The first scare is that ‘The Scream’ does not stand for one painting, but a series of paintings and prints by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. According to the artist, he was inspired whilst walking in the countryside when the sky suddenly turned blood red, and he ‘sensed an infinite scream passing through nature’.

There are plenty of popular theories to mention at dinner parties: one is that the sky was so red because a volcano burst out nearby. Another, that there were a slaughterhouse close by, or perhaps a manic-depressive woman in a madhouse in the vicinity which could have offered inspiration. Many people think that the screaming figure could be inspired by Peruvian mummies Munch could have seen in museums.

Because it is so recognisable, the image has been used by many diverse individuals, from Andy Warhol to anti-Bush activists.  Don’t forget to also mention that versions of the Scream were stolen in 1994 and 2004 (although both were later recovered). Land for one final fact: when Munch died in Norway in 1944, the Nazi’s orchestrated his funeral, making him look like a Nazi sympathiser.

D.J. Pardijs

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