Starting at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, expect a line–a very long line–out the door at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and learn to deal with it; it’ll be a fixture on the West 53rd streetscape for a while.
For the next six months, MoMA is hosting an exhibition dedicated to the work of Norwegian Symbolist painter Edvard Munch whose iconic portrait, The Scream (1895) the show's centerpiece, and a lucid depiction of modern existential angst, is on display in a single gallery on the fifth floor, alongside other works from the same period gathered from the museum's permanent holdings.
The haunting yet vivid pastel on board, which sold to an anonymous collector for a record $119.9 million at Sotheby's in May (outselling the highest priced piece of art sold at auction to that point: Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" at Christie's two years earlier) is one of a collection of four similar works created by the artist between 1893 and 1910 and the only one that remains part of a private collection. The others–two paintings and one pastel, all with the same title–belong to the Edvard Munch Museum and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, both in Oslo.
The Scream series is part Munch's larger Frieze of Life sequence, which explores modern life through the lenses of angst, death, and love. This particular piece, whose cheerful colors invite anything but that warm, fuzzy feeling, was inspired by a passage written by the artist years before he put crayon to paper, and is inscribed in Norwegian on a plaque affixed to the original frame encasing “the face that launched 1,000 therapists.”
"I was walking along the road with two of my friends. The sun set—the sky became a bloody red. And I felt a touch of melancholy—I stood still, dead tired—over the blue-black fjord and city hung blood and tongues of fire. My friends walked on—I stayed behind—trembling with fright—I felt the great scream in nature."
It’s positively chilling. And just in time for Halloween, too. Trick or treat?
Marguerite A. Suozzi is associate research editor at Travel + Leisure.