iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Munch and The Scream

Listen now 45 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Munch and The Scream

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 18 March 2010

Melvyn Bragg and guests David Jackson, Dorothy Rowe and Alastair Wright discuss the work of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, focusing on his most famous painting, The Scream.

First exhibited in 1893 in Berlin, The Scream was the culmination of Munch's magnum opus, a series of paintings called The Frieze of Life. This depicted the course of human existence through burgeoning love and sexual passion to suffering, despair and death, in Munch's highly original, proto-expressionist style.

His titles, from Death in the Sickroom, through Madonna to The Vampire, suggest just how directly and unironically he sought to depict the anxieties of late-19th century Europe.

But against all Munch's images, it is The Scream which stands out as the work which has seared itself into the Western imagination. It remains widely celebrated for capturing the torment of existence in what appeared to many in Munch's time to be a frightening, godless world.

Munch himself endured a childhood beset by illness, madness and bereavement. At 13, he was told by his father that his tuberculosis was fatal. But he survived and went on to become a major figure first in the Norwegian, then the European, avant-garde.

He became involved with two of the great playwrights of the period. He collaborated with his fellow countryman Henrik Ibsen and became a close friend of the tempestuous Swede August Strindberg. He admired the work of Post-Impressionist painters such as Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, all of whom influenced his art.

Munch's own influence resonated through the 20th century, from German Expressionism to Andy Warhol and beyond. His work, particularly The Scream, remains powerful today.

David Jackson is Professor of Russian and Scandinavian Art Histories at the University of Leeds; Dorothy Rowe is Senior Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Bristol; Alastair Wright is
University Lecturer in the History of Art at St John's College, University of Oxford.

  • FURTHER READING

    Clarke, Jay A., ‘Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety and Myth’ (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2009)

    Heller, Reinhold, ‘Edvard Munch: The Scream’ (Allen Lane and Penguin Press, London, 1973)

    McShine, Kynaston, ‘Edvard Munch: The Modern Life of the Soul’ (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2006)

    Prideaux, Sue, ‘Edvard Munch: Behind The Scream’ (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2005)

Broadcasts

Featured in...

  • Culture archive

    Popular culture, poetry, music and visual arts and the roles they play in our society.

  • 19th Century

    Browse the 19th Century era within the In Our Time archive.

In Our Time Downloads

melvyn-bragg.jpg

Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.

Free downloads

  1. Image for In Our Time Archive: Culture

    In Our Time Archive: Culture

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature…

  2. Image for In Our Time Archive: History

    In Our Time Archive: History

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

  3. Image for In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the…

  4. Image for In Our Time Archive: Religion

    In Our Time Archive: Religion

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of…

  5. Image for In Our Time Archive: Science

    In Our Time Archive: Science

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from…

  6. Image for In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss