The early twentieth century represented a turbulent and changing time, socially and in respect
to art, for the majority of the western world. Specifically, during and Post World War I the art culture
was radically morphing into a completely polar form. As artists utilized new methods and represented
emerging movements such Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, “suprematism”, The Readymade, Dada,
and Surrealism they all relied in the same belief of rebellion. This rebellion varied depending upon the
artist and their interpretation but in all cases it served the same purpose – to enlighten and redefine
what art “should be” and what can be called art. This disenchantment away from the stereotypical
classic definitions of art and what is defined either as beautiful or skillful is part of the evolution from
and into Modern Art and Modernity.
Four artists and their work are specifically adept at representing some of the aforementioned
movements and identifying the underlying beliefs of the changes of the times. In the late nineteenth
century, the Norwegian born Edvard Munch was responsible for creating one of the most recognizable
works of modern art. The Scream (1893) is a striking oil and tempura on board creation of a lone figure
on a bridge during is taken to be sunset. The figure is alone in the foreground, with two figures behind in
the distance one female and one male. The figure has no obvious gender clues. The figure is posed in a
terrified stance and conveys a look of fear while screaming. The colors used are exceptionally vibrant
with strong use of deep blues and violet, as well as contrasting orange and yellow for the sunset. The
piece conveys a feeling of being alone and fear while the distance of the two figures exaggerates the
separation. Munch used long fluid brushstrokes when creating the piece which suggests a sort of fluid
movement and the background seemingly melts at the horizon line. Additionally, these strokes are
representative of the Art Nouveau movement of the early 19th century, often seen in relative
architecture of the era.
From historical research, the emotions that are expressed in the piece can be related to Munch’s life.
Throughout his life, he was surrounded with death and disease as also represented in his earlier pieces
where he repeatedly composes an image of a sick young girl in various mediums. His mother, father, and
two siblings all had died of illness and had left Munch with feelings of despair and separation. These two
themes are directly reflected in The Scream, as the solitary figure is left alone in foreground and is
clearly anguished with the situation at hand. Further, the piece portrays an alternate connection to the
existing technological advances of the era. It can be interpreted as a piece that is commenting on how
Munch, and others, are being left behind in a world that is becoming ever more fascinated with
technology and its industrialization. Representative of the...