ONE thing led to another. I saw a photo of silver sculptures in a plane magazine en route to Europe. It was in a Ekebergparken in Oslo, which was one of my stops. I made to park and saw the sculpture, Louise Bourgeois' "The Couple," with my own eyes. While exploring the other areas of the national heritage park, I chanced upon a breathtaking view of the city and the fjord and took a photo of it. Little did I know it was the same spot and view that inspired Edvard Munch to paint "The Scream."
Written in Munch's diary, "One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord-the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream."
My first encounter with The Scream, regarded as one of the most recognized and prestigious images in art history, was at the Museum of Modern Art in the Big Apple. The 1895 pastel on board version was on loan from Norwegian businessman, Petter Olsen, who bought it a Sotheby's auction for $120 million, the most expensive artwork sold at an auction and the only version in private hands.
After chancing upon the image's spot of inspiration in the Oslo Park I made my way to the Munchmuseet where a couple of versions of The Scream are housed. Seeing two more images of The Scream is a good reason to scream with glee. But in museums silence is God and we whisper if we need to speak. I screamed in silence.
Located in Toyen on the East side of the city, the Munchmuseet was inaugurated on the 100th year of Munch's birth in 1963. From conception to realization, the artist was part of the creation of the museum. The building was considered a modern structure at that time, a perfect home for one of Modernist's most significant artists in Norway and the global art community.
The museum's collection started with Munch donating all his works four years before he passed away. Increasing the number was the artist's sister, Inger Munch, donating more of her brother's artworks in her charge, which included a significant number of letters.
To date, Munchmuseet's permanent collection holds over 1,200 paintings, 6 sculptures, 18,000 prints illustrating more than 700 themes and 500 printing plates, 7,500 drawings, watercolors, a library of books, documents, photographs and other items owned by the artist. Adding it all up, these amounts to more than half of Munch's entire production of paintings and at least a copy of all his prints.
With the increasing number of visitors and need for space to exhibit more of Munch's collection, the construction of a new and bigger Munch Museum has been approved by the Oslo City Council. By 2019, the new Munch Museum will rise near one of Oslo's most popular structures, the Opera House.
Maybe in this new home, The Scream won't be stolen anymore. It was in 2004 when the 1910 tempera on cardboard version was stolen from the Munchmuseet. Luckily, it was recovered in 2006.
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