Thursday, December 11, 2003


Munch's Scream is explained in terms of natural phenomenon. (via Follow Me Here)

Since 1893, when "The Scream" was rendered, various art historians have speculated about the nature of that event, and when it occurred. Now Dr. Donald Olson, an astronomer at Texas State University, and colleagues say these experts have overlooked an earth-shaking fact.
In the February 2004 issue of Sky & Telescope, the Texas group asserts that "The Scream" was the direct consequence of a cataclysm half a world away from Norway: the volcanic explosion on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa.

But to explain the painting in this way - or even to locate the historical reality seems to diminish its meaning. I prefer the earlier finding of Thomas M. Messer, who "suggested that the vivid sky in "The Scream" might simply be "visualizations of sound waves" or "externalizations of force and energy." Or this psychological reading: where the Scream is emotionally and stylistically the epitome of expressionist art with its gestural intensity and representational exaggeration of the landscape which mirror the inner nervous tension of the soul.

I notice that Van Gogh's Starry Night has been given the same sort of astronomical analysis
Wonder what sort of natural phenomena inspired Magritte?

Comments: rationale

the sky rained suited men smoking pipes.. it is not possible for an artist to be imaginative, after all, is it?

Here's a fact about Munch. I went to the Museum in Oslo. Hundreds and hundreds of prints of the same image with subtly different colour schemes. He didnt need naturalistic inspiration - he was a sophisticated experimenter into the psychological effects of colour.
Posted by David at December 11, 2003 07:23 PM

Hmm... I could buy that Krakatoa explanation more easily had the picture not been made ten years after that event. As the man says at the end of the piece, if Krakatoa was the shaping event, why did he take so long to commit it to canvas? Although I suppose the same could be said of any creative artist who carries an image like that with them for years before making use of it.
Posted by James Russell at December 11, 2003 07:26 PM

"the Scream is emotionally and stylistically the epitome of expressionist art with its gestural intensity and representational exaggeration of the landscape which mirror the inner nervous tension of the soul."

I tend to see it a graphic example of "Munchey see, Munchey do."

More slinking off very shamefaced in order mefinks.

(BTW. Ms B., Josh of Joshings has contacted mothership.)
Posted by Sedgwick at December 11, 2003 09:17 PM

Whatever the answer, Dr. Olson is barely able to contain his enthusiasm. "What's most rewarding," he says, "is that we are the first to have made the connection between one of the world's most famous paintings and one of the world's greatest disasters."
"What's most rewarding ... is that we are the first" !!!

First, but was it a P.B. my fine ten gallon hatted Doctor?

"to have made the connection" Tenuous? Coincidence? Serendipity? Cobblers?

Lock up your daughters the philistines are at the gates.
Posted by Sedgwick at December 11, 2003 09:30 PM

Yep I think the truth lies in the paintings.

Best just to wander slowly around the Oslo gallery unmediated by biography or geography.
Posted by boynton at December 12, 2003 11:27 AM

"I think the truth lies in the paintings."

I've just reread that sentence ... "the truth lies".

Ms B. you have placed the proposition of art as a deception on the agenda. Ms B. you have opened a can of deeply philosophical wriggly worms.

Was Kasimir Malevitch's magnum opus merely a white lie twice told?

Forgive her. She knows not what she has done.
Posted by Sedgwick at December 12, 2003 07:50 PM

au contraire, Sir S.
she chose those words with especial care this oh- so-slow morn. Let the worms wriggle free.
Posted by boynton at December 12, 2003 07:54 PM

If the truth does not lie in the painting as a work of art) where else would it lie?

Up in heaven? That way lies the path of Platonism

Art, too, partakes of enlightenment.

On the other hand the truth content expressed by painting needs to be dug out.

What is not mentioned in the comments about Munch's The Scream is that the possibility that this work of art speaks for what is hidden behind the veil---suffering.
Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at December 16, 2003 10:16 AM

Forgive me Gary, I was being flippant.
The "lies" side of the flippant equation was a dig at the scientific explanation industry , which will only produce (useful) marginalia but not meaning?
Art will be dug out, by our greater diggers, though there are times when I think it may be best just to go to the gallery and look.
Oslo would be good, but I'll settle for the NGV blockbuster tour I guess.
and yes - for me, suffering is the key.
Posted by boynton at December 16, 2003 12:03 PM

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