Image: The Scream
Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker, and an important forerunner of Expressionistic art. The Scream (1893; originally called Despair), Munch's best-known painting, is one of the pieces in a series titled The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of life, love, fear, death, and melancholy. As with many of his works, he painted several versions of it.
The Frieze of Life themes recur throughout Munch's work, in paintings such as The Sick Child (1886, portrait of his deceased sister Sophie), Vampire (1893-94), Ashes (1894), and The Bridge. The latter shows limp figures with featureless or hidden faces, over which loom the threatening shapes of heavy trees and brooding houses. Munch portrayed women either as frail, innocent sufferers or as lurid, life-devouring vampires. Munch analysts say this reflects his sexual anxieties.