I’m not very clued up when it comes to art. In fact, I’m probably more attuned to the works of Tony Hart and Rolf “Can you guess what is yet?” Harris than I am to any of the greats (not saying you’re not great, Rolf!).
Probably the only painting that has had much of an affect on me is Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and one of four prints made by the artist recently sold at auction for £74 million, which is just a little out of my price range – looks like I won’t be able to get shot of the Westlife poster covering the crack in the wall just yet!
Joking aside, this remains a very serious piece of art. For me the picture evokes feelings of fear and angst, something troubling that lurks within our frail human condition.
Munch described his inspiration for the piece thus:
‘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.’
It seems from his own words that Munch felt the call of the wild, a connection ever more tenuous between man and nature in this technological age. Reading the description he gave brought to mind the lyrics of the famous Doors song, When the Music’s Over.
Before I sink
Into the big sleep
I want to hear
I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly
A quick Google search of “scream of the butterfly” came up with a ton of different theories behind that particular lyric, ranging from a reference to a porno film to the death of beauty, or of nature. I guess with Jim Morrison it could mean anything, but if you take a look at this piece from the same song the latter seems more likely.
What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down
Was this a plea by Morrison for us to stand up and take notice of the way we are exploiting the Earth? Was he, like Munch, an inadvertent messenger, someone who heard the call – the scream?
There are plenty of people with spiritual beliefs that think the planet is a living and breathing entity, one we are just a tiny part of. Who knows – perhaps they are right? Maybe nature really does call out to us. And maybe – just maybe – it’s trying to tell us enough is enough, I’m hurting and you’re the only ones who can make it stop.