Edvard Munch was a gifted artist from Norway. His painting The Cry conveys to the viewer an immense amount of power and emotion, not only through the lines of the painting but through the way in which the lines converge and break apart. The oeuvre of Munch’s paintings encompasses a split from the traditional school of thought with painting, that is after Munch’s split with the traditional Paris School, the idea of art became symbolic with revolutionary ideas and with this the Berlin Secession was formed.
Munch’s paintings as a whole represented a stark reality, and as such , his paintings were themselves stark, full of anxiety. The images he portrayed emphasized fear in humanity, and that fear was given a backdrop of nightmarish landscape and psychological background. Munch delved into the unreasonable fear that causes a person to go berserk on a battle find or engulfed by the death of a loved, as Munch himself was when both his mother and sister died, succumbing to tuberculosis, and thus The Cry was created, to mark the point of fear in humanity staring into the face of their own nightmare; in Munch’s case, abysmal grief (Art History Guide).
The use of line for Munch was the focal point of most of his works. The rhythm of the line expresses in long wavy concord the echo of the action in the painting, in the case of The Cry the lines themselves appear like a sonic boom, or, the echo of the cry being given by the central figure. Munch does not leave any of his paintings disregarded and in every corner of The Cry the scream is given voice, whether in the stilted action of the figure with tense mouth and hands or the harsh lines etched into the paper. Such representation of line and emotion can be witnessed in Munch’s other art pieces such as Two Women on the Shore, and Girl Looking Out the Window. (Art Explorer).
The central figure in the painting The Cry, though androgynous does not detract from the message Munch portrayed. The message of Munch’s painting is insatiable sorrow, or grief. This feeling transcends gender. Since the grief that is expressed in the painting has its roots with the death of family members, the overall sentiment of the painting is not limited in scope to identity, and so, the figure in the middle becomes representational to each viewer of the work. This is the genius of Munch; he was able to give the viewer the exact emotion that he himself was feeling while creating his work. The androgynous figure in the painting only adds to emphasize the universal concept of fear and nightmares and this makes that feeling accessible on a broader scale than if the figure was gendered.
The lithograph of the black and white version of Munch’s The Cry, though rendered supremely does not quite emphasize the devastation that the colours add in the original. In the use of colour Munch is able to create a three dimensional landscape which further developed the sense of anxiety and stygian sentiment. With the use of colour Munch created a frightening apparition of a personal horror, though the black and white in its own regard does to an extant portray this, it is merely in the use of line that a viewer can empathize with the central figure. The variety of lines and of colour is what gives the viewer that psychological sense of horror, and paints the nightmare in vivid detail.
The black and white lithograph makes great use of positive and negative space. The undertones are remarkable and the lines hold true to the feeling that the entire work is screaming with the central figure. The viewer also gets a great sense of anxiety in how harsh the line depictions are in the black and white lithograph. The magic of Munch’s The Cry takes place with the color. It gives an extra feeling of how intensely sorrowful and horrified the figure is, and this is done through creating mood with color. The vibrant sky pitted against the swallowing blues of the water and the marriage of colors in each object carry the viewer to that psychological setting of surrealism while maintaining the centrality of emotion in the figure’s action.
Art Explorer. Edvard Munch. (Online). Retrieved 11 February 2008:
Art History Guide. Edvard Munch. (Online). Retrieved 11 February 2008: