One of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” paintings hammered down at Sotheby’s yesterday evening for a whopping 107 million to an anonymous, last minute phone bidder — the full price with buyer’s premium is more like $119,922,500.
It’s a famous bit of 1895-style sturm und drang. Some pre-existentialist hand-wringing. And it’s ugly as hell with garish Halloween colors and those signature melty it-hurts-so-much figures.
When I was a young existentialist, I understood stuff like this. But now this particular painting symbolizes for me the childish histrionics of Jean Paul Sartre’s Nausea and all that bitter Schopenhauresque weltschmertz.
Yes, I know I’m not paying any heed to the historical timeline. I am, instead, riffing on the hysterical timeless line. All that sweaty boo-hoo it’s killing me to be self-aware in an absurd universe…it stikes me as childish now. Even Beckett with his tediously hobbled “characters”… boo hoo! I’m consigned to a circumscribed and finite existence!
In Munch’s wrought language, written in red along the frame of a pastel version of The Scream:
“I was walking along the road with two Friends
the Sun was setting – The Sky turned a bloody red
And I felt a whiff of Melancholy – I stood
Still, deathly tired – over the blue-black
Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire
My Friends walked on – I remained behind
– shivering with Anxiety – I felt the great Scream in Nature.”
~ Edvard Munch
Now I’m all verklempt.