Monday, May 7, 2012

Munch THIS scream!!

Scream by
Edvard Munch


“I rarely visit galleries these days” said a friend and an art enthusiast whom I bumped into a prestigious art gallery checking out a recent show on fashion. “I just get bored seeing art. There is no magic in today's art” she tried justifying herself in an apologetic tone. Sarcastic smile propped on my lips. Honestly I was equally numb by the visual input I had taken in. We walked out of the gallery without exchanging much words . “Hope to catch you soon” I said out of sheer courtesy as we walked in different directions. This time a bitter smile responded from other end.
“So I am not alone to feel this way” I thought to myself. Why this kinda art is making me feel numb that I have no volition to even scream, cry, laugh, get angry, say something nasty or even come out the hall to realize something and then go back to the gallery to confirm what I saw has changed my world albeit for few moments. I am just numb with the visuals that come in guise of art before me.  What is more frightening is as i step out of the gallery all what I have seen  seem to vanish without trace. Is there something wrong with me? Or is today's art is all about disconnect?
Voices of discontent are emerging out slowly. First it was Saatchi who wrote in Guardian who called today's art as 'Vulgar, Eurotrashy, masturbatory'

Then there was Jerry Saltz of New York Times art critic, who wrote about today's art “ Like oil wells, once these operations are turned on they have to keep pumping product. Lots of it. Most of it crude. For ten years, large, shiny, highly produced, entertaining, ever-more-expensive objects were produced by the system, then snapped up by speculator collectors who rushed in where the rest of us feared to tread. It doesn’t matter that most of them don’t know what art really is and have never gleaned its hallucinatory powers. A lot of people struck it rich and laughed all the way to the bank.”

and recently a viral which is doing rounds on social networks a blog by Glen Coco

All of them seemed to be screaming. “THERE IS NO ART ON THE WALLS”

Is this a sign?


This is the name of the iconic painting by Edvard Munch, a 19th century Norwegian artist. The painting was recently in news for fetching a record price in an auction. 

The work which stands for the anxiety of the 'modern man's life' sums up an aspect of Munch's own life as he wrote about this work "I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black . My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature." He later described the personal anguish behind the painting, "for several years I was almost mad… You know my picture, 'The Scream?' I was stretched to the limit—nature was screaming in my blood… After that I gave up hope ever of being able to love again.

There is no need to read or write about this work. Everyone who stands before this image knows what exactly Munch is saying/feeling/ living. You participate in the scream silently to acknowledge the pain.

Munch was one of painters whom I was admired in my early years of art school. I was lucky to see the retrospective of Munch at New York MoMA few years back. Munch was not a great draftsman, and many of his work show his vulnerability of his skill. But that's what I admired most. Vulnerability. His works left a strange longing and sadness in your heart.

There are various versions of this scream. Compositionally all works similar. Why did he paint the this theme so often? Or is  it that this painting became so popular that in order to fulfill the demand he repeated it over and over again?Or was he just trying to capture the exact moment of scream that he felt on the bridge?

Whatever may be the reason the fact remains this work touched the hearts of the people and it still does. But what intrigues me is the strange timing that this work came in auction?  Lets not talk about the price. Because it is no secret how auction prices are  rigged. Critics /writes/ bloggers are screaming again . A price like this can only demean the work which is priceless.  Is that so? Does this really stop you loving Munch's Scream ? His life and art?

For me the significance is not how obscene the price paid for this work? For me the significance of this work is at a time when the contemporary art is erasing  all the metaphysical quality of art, Scream  comes as a reminder that  metaphysical quality of art is beyond time, memory and money.

I ask again is this a sign?

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