SPEAKER: Close your eyes.
Now I want you to think about the most famous painting in art history.
Are you picturing Mona Lisa?
Now think about the second most famous painting you know.
Open your eyes.
Was I right?
This one, as you may already know, is called “The Scream,”
and was painted by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch in 1893.
How do you feel looking at it?
Uncomfortable, but at the same time hypnotized?
For more than a century this allegory of pain and panic
has been reproduced, caricatured,
and parodied to become a touchstone of pop culture.
From the terrifying mask of the movie “Scream “
to the poster for “Home Alone,” the spine-chilling painting
even has its own emoji.
Somewhere between extreme Impressionism and early expressionism
there’s this hairless, browless,
alien-like figure standing on a bridge,
blank-eyed, mouth wide open.
Its distorted body twirls like a wave of distress.
Is it a man?
Is it even human?
I don’t know why, I just didn’t understand it when I was a kid,
but I kind of relate to it now in a way,
in the way that life around me is kind of distorted sometimes.
Some art historians suggest
Munch might have been inspired by a Peruvian mummy he saw
at the World’s Fair in Paris.
It might even be Edvard Munch himself.
Reminiscing, about the scene, he writes,
“I was walking along the road with two friends.
The sun was setting.
Suddenly the sky turned blood red.
I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaning on the fence.
我停下脚步 感觉到很疲惫 然后倚靠在栅栏上
There was blood and tongues of fire above the blue/black fjord in the city.
My friends walked on, and I stood there
trembling with anxiety.
And I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
Hence the original title of the work, “The Scream of Nature,”
because contrary to what is often assumed,
the scream does not necessarily show the screamer.
Some experts actually believe that the image shows the figure
hearing a scream instead.
The scream itself seems to be distorting all the nature elements
like a shock wave.
Or maybe it reflects the troubled mental state
of the main figure.
Only the bridge seems to resist, with its linear planks
and thick, straight banister.
Everything else is filled with sinuous lines
and vivid colors– red, blue, orange, and green
和鲜艳的颜色—— 用红色 蓝色 橘色和绿色
depicting the also fjord and a disrupted sky above
reminiscent of van Gogh’s la nuit étoilée
An American astrophysicist suggests
the spoiling sky might have been caused
by the cataclysmic eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in 1883
whose ashes tinted European skies red.
Edvard Munch completed several variations of it
with pastels and pencils, and even a lithograph.
Two of them have been stolen and later found,
which shows how much fascination this work of art holds.
SPEAKER: Close your eyes.