One of the most evocative paintings in the world has to be The Scream by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, whose used 19th century Symbolism to develop his own style through depictions of psychological issues and mental illness.
Munch painted The Scream in 1893 and there are four versions of it – two paintings and two pastel pieces. Munch used bold colours and very harrowing images from his own mind in order to show the real feeling of despair in a person who is screaming in anguish against the backdrop of a wooden walkway by the seaside.
Although a lot was put into the background, the sheer presence of the screaming figure dominates the whole painting. Munch’s work and personal style eventually had a great influence on German Expressionism after the turn of the century.
While Munch is mostly known for his bold use of colours and his melancholy style, the first influence on his artistic hand was actually engineering drawing. He enrolled in college and was actually studying to be an engineer, with a particular talent for being able to draw and design things in perspective without much need for measuring.
But a year later he dropped out and enrolled at an art school, incurring in the wrath of his father, who was not at all happy with his career choice. It is thought that so few of Munch’s early paintings survived because his father, who was very religious, destroyed many of them.
Munch had a very pragmatic approach to art and was often quoted as saying that he painted merely to understand life itself. The Scream has the dubious honour of having been stolen twice, (although it was a different version from the one widely reproduced). Both times, the painting was recovered and given back to its rightful owners.
Munch has said that The Scream was a depiction of how he was feeling at the particular time he painted the piece. It was memory of walking by the sea with friends and feeling a huge sense of dread and tiredness.