Suddenly the color of the sky changed to blood red.
I stopped walking and leaned against a fence feeling tired to death
I saw the flaming clouds like bloodstained swords
the blue-black fjord and the city
my friends went on walking
I stood there trembling with fear
and I felt how a long unending scream
was going through the whole of nature.
The Scream (1893)
"The Scream" is often described as the first expressionistic picture, and is the most extreme example of Munch's "soul paintings". The facial expression depends to a large degree on the painting's dynamics, the colours and lines. The scene - and particularly the foreground figure - are grotesquely distorted and rendered in colours that are not taken from external reality. The entire landscape is distorted by pain and despair. Munch doesn’t just paint what a person in pain might look like. He sees the world through the eyes of this agonized person. A ghostly figure clutches its skull-like head in agony. Blood-red lines vibrate around it like shrieks of terror. The percussiveness of the motif shows that it also speaks to our day and age.
Munch’s The Scream is possibly the most powerful visual symbol ever created for the anxieties of modem life. It has become recognised as the actual mental image of the existential angst of civilised man. During the final years of the last century, when the artist did this work, society was being completely transformed—politically, socially and technologically. New machines like the airplane, the automobile the telephone, and the radio were changing people’s lives. Modern cities were growing rapidly, and with them a sense of isolation and alienation. And advances in science and psychology were establishing the importance of emotions and the unconscious. Artists of the time like Munch, needed to express their feelings about these disturbing changes.
In 2003, astronomers claimed to have identified the time that the painting depicted. The eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 caused unusually intense sunsets throughout Europe in the winter of 1883-4, which Munch captured in his picture.
The "Scream" motif was repeated by Munch twice . .
The background landscape is the same that we find in The Scream. The pale, ghostly faces come toward us like a procession of ghosts, in a line which could almost be seen as a funeral cortège.
Eve on Karl Johan (1892)
I felt so alone.
I felt as if people were staring at me, all these strange faces,
pale in the evening light.
Munch described the feelings that inspired him to create this painting. He had just seen a woman he knew walking toward him in a crowd. But she walked right past him.
In this painting, Munch has been able to express new 20th-century feelings about modern city life. The subject of this Expressionist work is no longer a city street, but an emotion. With his leaning shapes, swiftly receding perspectives, menacing skull-like faces, and anonymous, shadowy figures, Munch has visualized the feeling of fear—the fear of a crowd of people in a big city as the sun goes down and night comes on.The single figure moving alone against the flow of the crowd may symbolize the artist’s idea of himself as an outsider.