Art

Munch The Scream is Up For Auction!

Munch - The ScreamIn an unprecedented event, Sotheby’s is holding an Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale today on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in New York City. Why is this unprecedented? Because of the lead and featured work in the sale, as Sotheby’s describes it: “the defining image of the Expressionist movement”: Edvard Munch’s THE SCREAM.

When the auction news broke in February, it spread like global wildfire, igniting the art world, THE SCREAM is one of the most famous and haunting masterpieces in the world, the Impressionist image of a person, mid-scream, is the most recognized image of any piece of artwork (and also the most stolen), save for, perhaps, the MONA LISA. For a little over three months, art lovers, collectors and patrons have been waiting in anxious anticipation of this day.

And now, it’s nearly here.

Munch - The ScreamOn display at Sotheby’s since April 27, officials at the auction house estimate that the piece could garner more than $80 million, one of the highest prices paid for any piece of art anywhere in the world. Experts across the world suggest that THE SCREAM could break the art auction record held by Pablo Picasso’s “Nude, green leaves and bust” in 2010, which sold for an auction record of $106.5 million. The final sales price speculated? Anywhere between $125 – $150 million dollars, smashing any price paid in the history of the auction art world.

It’s an image ingrained within our culture, recognized globally. From posters and prints, from tea pots to t-shirts, from mugs to magnets to mousepads, THE SCREAM’s popularity perhaps stems from a visual representation of universal human emotions: modern anxiety, angst and dread.

Edvard Munch created four versions of THE SCREAM:

  • An 1893 version was made with crayon on cardboard.
  • Another 1893 version was made with tempera and crayon on cardboard.
  • The 1910 version was made with tempera and oil on cardboard.
  • And this version, dated 1895, is pastel on board.

The version for sale is the only version still in its original frame, “hand-painted by the artist to include his poem detailing the work’s inspiration.” It’s also the most vibrant, and it’s also the only version “in which one of the two figures in the background turns to look outward onto the cityscape,” according to Sotheby’s.

The first three versions (1893 and 1910) all hang in Norwegian museums, while the version for sale at Sotheby’s on Wednesday evening was the only one still in private hands. Current owner, Norwegian businessman and shipping heir Petter Olsen’s father Thomas was a neighbor, friend and patron of Munch. Owning such an iconic piece became “a huge responsibility,” and the decision to sell was made.

Next year, 2013, is the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch’s birth, with THE SCREAM proof of his legacy in Expressionism and the impact of art on history, pop culture and modern society.

What do you think the Scream will fetch at Auction? We will know tonight!

Crystal Spear

About the Author

I was raised in Wichita, KS and I have been drawing and painting as long as I can remember. I paint the interior of my house according to the season and could not imagine a world without colors. I am a writer, mother, and grandmother - My motto in life has always been "Any day you wake up is going to be a good day".