Gene Edward Vieth, in his book The State of the Arts, discusses the significance of the famous painting The Scream.
Edvard Munch was a post-Impressionist (or Expressionist). His work expresses an immense amount of panic and/or despair. The bold colors, harsh brush strokes, and chilling content depict this. But Munch did not create this simply because he was “a depressed man.” Neither did he think that it was simply a “neat idea.” His work reveals something about “the meaning of life” to him and the people of in his day.
Munch’s predecessors were the Impressionists. They focused on optics. They painted reality, but only as the eye actually perceived it. Yet the work of an impressionist (say, Monet) presents a world that is hardly seems real. It seems more fragmented and almost dreamlike.
Munch and his post-Impressionist/Expressionist contemporaries followed. They didn’t seek to present the reality outside of themselves as the Impressionists did. They presented their inward realities (they expressed themselves).
Living in a world that seems fragmented, without purpose or connectedness, will throw anyone into delusions and make them “scream.” The reaction of panic is the natural outcome. So Munch work was simply expressing the emotions of living with such a philosophy of life.
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