The Scream by Edward Munch Analysis

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Edward Munch’s painting looks as if it’s a scene from a horror film. One of his most famous paintings, The Scream, is a well known painting for the amount of expression given in just a single piece of artwork. The main image shown in the center of the artwork is associated with the movie, Scream. This painting automatically grabs the viewers attention and provokes questions dealing with the emotional state of the artist, Munch, himself. The reason the audience might have believed Munch was feeling this way was because previously he had been stuck with death and abandonment of loved ones, and had strong cases of anxiety and depression. Munch used lines, shadow and light, and form to help express his feelings of anxiety, horror, and other signs of distress.

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The audience believes Munch painted what he was feeling and thinking internally, rather than what he might have deserved. Many often even feel disturbed or worried when viewing The Scream for the first time, compared to other paintings where a pleasant feeling comes across your body. Edvard Munch’s use of lines and brush strokes tend to make the viewer focus their eyes towards the haunting and disturbing picture in the center of the art work. To further add on Munch’s line work, the sky was painted with curvy and wavy lines that continue to flow into the distressed figure to help form it. By doing so, one might infer that the figure is showing signs of chaos running through the mind of the figure, or even madness. The disorderly lines in the background not only form the body of the figure, but help form the background which looks as if it is all sitting on the figures shoulders. By doing so, it seems as if the surroundings of the figure are causing some sort of pressure. The straight lines in the figure tend to draw the audience’s eyes from the curvy lines and focal point of the figure. We can infer the wavy water background and sky are trying to show an eerie sound to help portray the feeling that is given off by this painting.

The mood of The Scream is also shown by distorting the whole image. Nothing about this painting is evenly painted and structured. By doing so, the audience has no choice other than to focus on the figure in the center which gives us a worried sense of feeling. Another feelings show is because of the figure not showing a male or female facial structure. Maybe Munch did this to show that everyone can go through anxiety and depression. The panic, fear, and horror shown helps us see that anyone and everyone experiences these struggles. Also, seeing how Munch distorted everything helps prove the point of the unstable mind of the center faceless figure. Lastly to help show the mood, the lonely background represents the loneliness the figure might be feeling along with the isolation and fear the figure might be going through.

Another element Munch uses is balance to help understand the true significance of this painting. With munch placing the main figure in the center, he then places two unknown figures walking towards the red and orange sunset. Also with his use of all the curvy and wavy lines on the right-hand side of the painting, he then added the straight lines on the left side to create a sense of balance to the viewers. In addition to balance, Munch used warm colors and contrasted them with the cold colors. Another thing he may have been trying to contrast would be how he painted the two figures in the distance with straight lines and proper structure, compared to the figure in the center who is painted with random strokes and lines. We can only assume he was trying to depict his internal feelings, which might have been sanity and madness.

Being informed of all these elements Munch used helps the viewers truly understand the deep meaning behind the painting The Scream. Munch never had many happy endings, as a child he lost several siblings along with his mother. In his later adult life, never was able to find the one to spend the rest of his life with. To top it all off, he suffered from different illnesses. This painting is somewhat of a recreation of a boardwalk outside of a mental asylum for women and a slaughterhouse, which leaves a significant meaning. 

In conclusion, Munch perfectly uses the elements of light, colors, form, movement, and balance, to create a subtle spine-chilling mood.

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