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“The Scream”- analysis of painting

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The drastic use of color has been used to depict the mood of the subject, with greens and intense reds contributing to a sense of chaos and disorder, which helps to reinforce the expression of the figure. The lone emaciated figure stands on a bridge clutching his ears, his eyes and mouth open in a wide scream of fear, anguish and confusion. The green hue of the character’s face and his grey clothing is symbolic of sickness and death in regards to his psychotic mental state. The red sky creates a sense of alarm, and highlights the intensity of the character’s experience.

Munch employs wavy brushstrokes to emphasise the situation that the character is feeling. Bold, curved strokes in the sky and river, make the viewer experience a sense of nausea. It gives the impression that the character is experiencing emotional agitation, and that his perception of the world may not be a true one.

Contrast between the bright colors of the background and the dull, dark colors of the character create a sense of detachment. We are able to see that although he is standing amidst a normal environment, he feels disconnected from reality. The figure is juxtaposed with the people on the bridge – blurry and vague- giving a sense of segregation and isolation. The character feels alienated from those around him and from the real world.

Munch uses a shallow pictorial space, and has utilised frontal figures. These poses produce the most convincing images of psychological conditions, adding to the painting’s monumental and static quality.

The composition, colors and dramatic use of perspective, the undulating curves of the landscape and hollow figure personify alienation and anxiety. Munch described the event, which took place on a trip to Ekebergsasen in his diaries: “I stood there trembling with fright and I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature.” It reflects upon human emotions, and how our relationships with others, and with our environment can affect us. The visual also deals with the human need to be acknowledged, and need for a sense of belonging.

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