Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Scream

(The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1863-1944,
Norwegian artist)

Edvard Munch made three versions of this “infinite scream passing through nature,” as he described it in his diary; that’s how the image has been understood since its creation about a hundred years ago.

But the interpretation of any symbol can be completely transformed in unexpected ways. To a generation of young filmgoers, this painting has been tamed and now leaves a much more benign and comedic impression, of the young Macaulay Culkin accidentally left
Home Alone.

Gűnter Kunert suffered through both totalitarianisms that ravaged his native eastern Germany in the twentieth century. In his poem, he hews to the original meaning of the image.


The scream renowned and polyglot
up close to the viewer, not a man,
not a woman, just
pure human essence, an expression
of archaic horror.
Meanwhile we are walking
in the background side by side
undeterred, as far as we could tell,
by the painter’s
view of our own character.

~ Gűnter Kunert, born 1929, German poet, essayist, and artist, from a collection of poems commissioned by Jan Greenberg, Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from around the World

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