Saturday, May 05, 2012

Hands up if you like Munch

One of the most famous images of our time has to be Edvard Munch's The scream. Has any Norwegian painting of a person on a bridge been more duplicated in more versions? But for our money it was Australian sculptor Ricky Swallow who nailed The Scream’s strange attraction for popular culture with his photograph Picture a screaming sculpture.

The image is of a wooden sculpture Swallow carved based on the Ghostface mask in the horror movie Scream. That mask was in turn based on one made in 1991 by a Fun World employee Brigitte Sleiertin as part of a series entitled Fantastic Faces with her mask being known as The Peanut-Eyed Ghost (thanks Wiki) but its association with Munch’s The Scream has since left her title lying in the blood-sodden dust.

We are telling you all this because as you will know the last privately owned version of Munch’s famous painting came up for auction the other day and sold for $NZ147 million. The general feeling is that someone from Qatar put their hand up and then got back to reading their book until they won the prize.

Images: The four known versions of Munch’s The scream. Top left, the one sold at Sotheby’s for $NZ147 million, a pastel on card with its frame inscribed by Munch with one of his poems. Top right, the best-known version in the collection of the National Gallery in Oslo. Someone has inscribed into one of the clouds (possibly Munch himself) “Could only have been painted by a madman.” Bottom left, possibly the first version and in the collection of the Munch Museum. Bottom right, also considered a contender for the first scream award this is the version that was famously stolen in 2004 and latter returned (slightly damaged) to the Munch Museum