"Can only have been painted by a madman."


Words by Edvard Munch in tiny letters in the most famous version of "The Scream," The Art Newspaper reports

Can we be sure that the artist wrote these words? Mai Britt Guleng, the curator of Old Masters and modern paintings at the National Museum of Norway, says yes. First, the handwriting matches up to other samples of Munch's handwriting. Second, the writing is tiny:

“Had this been an act of vandalism by another person, the size of the letters would probably have been larger and the whole text more striking when you stand in front of the work."

Third — though I think this is a fact that could cut either way — the words are not painted over.

“There has been strangely little attention to the inscription.... some researchers have taken it for granted that it was written by Munch, but they haven’t discussed why and when. From 2008 it has been generally accepted that the writing was made by another person, without any discussion at all."

Guleng notes that Munch heard criticism of his work and was "confronted about his mental health" on one occasion. Why would that motivate him to write on his own painting? That's more interesting than the question whether he or some vandal wrote it. Let's assume Munch wrote it. Why did he write it? Don't assume he was judging and doubting himself. There are other possibilities: he was satirizing his critics, he was inviting us to contemplate whether only madmen paint like that, or he was celebrating himself as a madman.

***

This is the 9th post with the tag "The Scream."

The oldest post with the tag is "Shimmering shining shriek/scream" from April 2005. Excerpt:

Later, I watched the DVD of "After Hours"...

Paul [looking at Kiki's papier maché sculpture]: It reminds me of that Edvard Munch painting. What is it? "The Shriek"?

Kiki: "The Scream."

Googling for a picture for "The Scream," to illustrate this post [that was already] about how things go together, I hit a Reuters story from one hour ago, saying they've just today arrested a man for the theft of "The Scream." (The painting was stolen last August.) I love that feeling of things seeming to converge. I know it's only an illusion.

[Author: [email protected] (Ann Althouse)]


Tags: Art, Writing, Law, Munch, Edvard Munch, Reuters, Don, Kiki, Ann Althouse, Insanity, Mai Britt Guleng, Guleng, The Scream, Destruction Of Art, National Museum of Norway

Source:  http://althouse.blogspot.com/2021/02/can-only-have-been-painted-by-madman.html




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