The figure in Edvard Munch’s iconic artwork, “The Scream,” is not actually screaming, as is widely assumed, the British Museum said on Wednesday. Instead, it is reacting to a scream.
Munch made clear what was going on in an inscription on a rarely-seen black-and-white version of the image, which Munch annotated with the words “I felt the great scream throughout nature.”
According to Giulia Bartrum, who is curating a Munch exhibition at the British Museum which features the black-and-white lithograph, this shows that the figure is hearing the scream rather than making it.
Munch, a Norwegian artist, finished the first painting in 1893, but made several more versions.
In the decades since, the image has morphed into a universal symbol for anxiety, and is clearly reference in the “person screaming” emoji. According to the emojitracker website, it is the 53rd most frequently used emoji.
scream emoji from:redbubble.com
The British Museum is displaying the lithograph as part of its exhibition “Edvard Munch: love and angst” from April 11 to July 21.
lithograph[‘lɪθəɡræf]: n. 平版印刷品
angst[æŋst]: n. 忧虑；想不开
Bartrum told INSIDER: “This rare version of The Scream that we’re displaying at the British Museum makes clear that Munch’s most famous artwork depicts a person hearing a ‘scream’ and not, as many people continue to assume and debate, a person screaming.” 巴图鲁姆告内幕网说：“咱以于那个英博物馆展出的这罕见的《喝》本子表明，蒙克最有名的就幅画作中写的是一个听到尖叫声的人口，设无是如很多人口如果和争论的那么是一个尖叫的人口。”
“Munch very deliberately included the caption [. . .] on this version to describe how his inspiration came from the anxiety he suddenly felt as he walked along a path in Oslo, a place you can still visit today,” Bartrum continued.
Munch said that the piece recreated the feeling of panic he felt when the sky turned blood red on his walk, according to Bartrum.
“I have no doubt that this iconic figure is reacting to nature’s external forces on that hillside. What can still be debated is whether, for Munch, those forces were real or psychological,” the curator said.
She added that Munch was known for creating images that symbolize strong emotions, like love or jealousy. “The Scream” transmits the feeling of a panic-inducing scream with a simple design: Wavy bands in the sky give the sensation of a quivering tuning fork, as a figure covers its ears, Bartrum said.
“This stylized gesture will always be instantly recognizable to people as despair,” she said.