The Scream & The Argument

My favorite painting from the age of sixteen to twenty, was ‘The Scream’ that was recently auctioned for $119 million dollars, which is a record that leaves ‘The Mona Lisa’ and ‘The Men in Her Life’ in the dust.

I never made any real money off my art, but, I know what I like, and what constitutes good art – because I did my own version of The Scream when I was seventeen, and gave it to my insane father, and his crazy-ass wife, Dee-Dee. Crazy Dee-Dee chased Vic around their home in Lafayette un-loading his nine millimeter at him. As he headed out the back door, perhaps screaming for his life, Dee-Dee’s last shot ricocheted off the metal window frame, shattered the glass, and is imbedded in my late father’s back, or his skeleton this very day.

I gave two paintings to my father ‘The Argument’ being one of them. It was my hope to tame this wild beast, this selfish Leo and bring some culture into his life. After Christine died, Vic growled this critique;

“I hate art!”

Well said, thought I. Alas a honest opinion! And Art hates you!

Vic’s homes were horror shows of drunken brawls. The painting I did of Marilyn watching her mother take clothes off the line because a terrible storm is approaching, ended up with a good size hole in it when it was knocked off the fireplace mantle. For want of a nail!

The Argument has three figures in it. Two women are walking up a zig-zag road to the top of the hill where there is this sickly light – of hope! A man who looks like a white-robed prophet is yelling – as are the two women. No one is on the same page, traveling the road of life together in harmony. There is terror behind Dee-Dee’s eyes, devoid of hope. When a business associate of Vic saw this work, she began to cry! Now – that’s art!

This painting is prophetic for Vic began to look like the male figure, and he took to wearing a robe around the house all day like Vinny the Chin. He also sang in the Barbershop Quartet, which adds to the opera and drama of it all.

Note how the Prescos have decorated their home with the same somber browns found in The Arguement. The T.V. tray is brown, and the clock seems to exude – Brown Time. The lamp is the white-robed prophet bringing light into the dark Presco home, it growing darker by the day. Dee-Dee is all in brown and Vic has placed her before his son’s masterpiece, the only gift he ever recieved from any of his children. But, it turns out to be a Trojan Hosrse that sucked the life out of Dee-Dee and Vic – and drove them mad! They wanted to cry out, but, couldn’t! This was my vision from the Id, my monster I unleashed upon my father and his second wife, that was their un-doing. This was my revenge for Vic twisting my mother’s arm, forcing her to her kness before the Frigidaire because she did not know how to cook cattle kidneys.

“You put them in a big pot – and boil the piss out em!” growled King Victor.

It is a vicious rumor that Dee-Dee and Vic died due to acute alcoholism. They died of acute art!

The fate of this painting is unknown. Who knows what the price of my very rare works will bring at Southeby’s some day.

Quality, no Quantity!

Jon Presco

Copyright 2012

To mere mortals it hardly seemed like a bargain but someone, somewhere, has decided that owning a rare version of Edvard Munch’s 1895 painting, The Scream, was worth shelling out an eye-watering $119.9m (£74m).

The price, one of the highest ever paid for a work of art, was reached after just 12 minutes of bidding and paid by a so-far anonymous telephone bidder.

As the auctioneer’s gavel came down at Sotheby’s in New York, the crowd in the room cheered the remarkable event. Bidding had started at a relatively modest $50m with at least five interested parties but the field narrowed as the price sky-rocketed.

One of only four versions of the work in existence and widely regarded as the best, the painting sold on Thursday night is one of a handful of artistic images that have crossed over from the world of high art to popular culture.

It has inspired film references, from the knife-wielding villain of the Scream slasher movies to a famous scene in Home Alone, where child star Macauley Culkin imitated the painting’s famous pose.

It is also celebrated by the therapy industry with its horrific depiction of stress and terror.

“This is not a a beautiful landscape in Surrey or a harbour on the French Riviera. It is a representation of extreme anxiety. Imagine if a shrink in London had this on their wall. It’s a fantastic painting for their profession. Of course, they could not afford it,” said Mark Winter, director of Munch Experts, a company specialising in appraising and valuing works by the Norwegian expressionist.

This version is the only one whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem explaining the work’s inspiration. Munch described himself “shivering with anxiety” and feeling “the great scream in nature”.

The Scream (Norwegian: Skrik) is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature) is the title Munch gave to these works, all of which show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous red sky. The landscape in the background is the Oslofjord, viewed from Ekeberg, Oslo, Norway.
Edvard Munch created the four versions in various media. The National Gallery, Oslo, holds one of two painted versions (1893, shown at right). The Munch Museum holds the other painted version (1910, see gallery) and a pastel version from 1893.
The fourth version (pastel, 1895) sold for $119,922,500 at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art auction on 2 May 2012 to a private buyer,[1] the highest nominal price paid for a painting at auction.[2] (The Card Players by Paul Cézanne was sold privately in 2011 for between $250 and 300 million.[3])
Also in 1895, Munch created a lithograph stone of the image. Of the lithograph prints produced by Munch, several examples survive.[4] Only approximately four dozen prints were made before the original stone was resurfaced by the printer in Munch’s absence.[5]
The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later. In 2004, both The Scream and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum, and recovered two years later.

The original German title given to the work by Munch is, Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). The Norwegian word skrik usually is translated as scream, but is cognate with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting also has been called, The Cry.
In his diary in an entry headed, Nice 22.01.1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image:
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.[6]
This memory was later rendered by Munch as a poem, which he hand-painted onto the frame of the 1895 pastel version of the work:
I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.[7]
Among theories advanced to account for the reddish sky in the background is the artist’s memory of the effects of the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, which deeply tinted sunset skies red in parts of the Western hemisphere for months during 1883 and 1884, about a decade before Munch painted The Scream.[8] This explanation has been disputed by scholars, who note that Munch was an expressive painter and was not primarily interested in literal renderings of what he had seen. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the proximity of both a slaughterhouse and a lunatic asylum to the site depicted in the painting may have offered some inspiration.[9] The scene was identified as being the view from a road overlooking Oslo, the Oslofjord and Hovedøya, from the hill of Ekeberg. At the time of painting the work, Munch’s manic depressive sister Laura Catherine was a patient at the asylum at the foot of Ekeberg.[citation needed]
In 1978, the Munch scholar Robert Rosenblum suggested that the strange, sexless creature in the foreground of the painting was inspired by a Peruvian mummy, which Munch could have seen at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. This mummy, which was buried in a fetal position with its hands alongside its face, also struck the imagination of Munch’s friend Paul Gauguin: it stood as a model for the central figure in his painting, Human misery (Grape harvest at Arles) and for the old woman at the left in his painting, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?. More recently, an Italian anthropologist speculated that Munch might have seen a mummy in Florence’s Museum of Natural History, which bears an even more striking resemblance to the painting.[10]
The imagery of The Scream has been compared to that which an individual suffering from depersonalization disorder experiences, a feeling of distortion of the environment and one’s self.[11]
[edit] Thefts
The Scream has been the target of a number of thefts and theft attempts. Some damage has been suffered in these thefts.

Four men breaking into the National Gallery, Oslo, trying to steal its version of The Scream, February 1994
On 22 February 1994, the same day as the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, four men broke into the National Gallery and stole its version of The Scream, leaving a note reading “Thanks for the poor security”.[12] The painting had been moved down to a second-story gallery,[13] as part of the Olympic festivities. The presence of international media covering the games made the theft a sensation.[14] After the gallery refused to pay a ransom demand of US$1 million in March 1994, Norwegian police set up a sting operation with assistance from the British police (SO10) and the Getty Museum and the painting was recovered undamaged on 7 May 1994.[13] In January 1996, four men were convicted in connection with the theft, including Pål Enger, who had been convicted of stealing Munch’s Vampire in 1988.[15] They were released on appeal on legal grounds: the British agents involved in the sting operation had entered Norway under false identities.[16]

Thieves taking paintings from the Munch Museum in Oslo on 22 August 2004 in a photograph taken by an unidentified bystander
Another version of The Scream was stolen on 22 August 2004, during daylight hours, when masked gunmen entered the Munch Museum in Oslo and stole two paintings by Munch, Scream and Madonna.[17] A bystander photographed the robbers as they escaped to their car with the artwork (shown at right). On 8 April 2005, Norwegian police arrested a suspect in connection with the theft, but the paintings remained missing and it was rumored that they had been burned by the thieves to destroy evidence.[18][19] On 1 June 2005, with four suspects already in custody in connection with the crime, the city government of Oslo offered a reward of 2 million Norwegian krone (roughly US$313,500 or €231,200) for information that could help locate the paintings.[20] Although the paintings remained missing, six men went on trial in early 2006, variously charged with either helping to plan or participating in the robbery. Three of the men were convicted and sentenced to between four and eight years in prison in May 2006, and two of the convicted, Bjørn Hoen and Petter Tharaldsen, were also ordered to pay compensation of 750 million kroner (roughly US$117.6 million or €86.7 million) to the City of Oslo.[21] The Munch Museum was closed for ten months for a security overhaul.[22]
On 31 August 2006, Norwegian police announced that a police operation had recovered both The Scream and Madonna, but did not reveal detailed circumstances of the recovery. The paintings were said to be in a better-than-expected condition. “We are 100 percent certain they are the originals,” police chief Iver Stensrud told a news conference. “The damage was much less than feared.”[23][24] Munch Museum director Ingebjørg Ydstie confirmed the condition of the paintings, saying it was much better than expected and that the damage could be repaired.[25] The Scream had moisture damage on the lower left corner, while Madonna suffered several tears on the right side of the painting as well as two holes in Madonna’s arm.[26] Before repairs and restoration began, the paintings were put on public display by the Munch Museum beginning 27 September 2006. During the five-day exhibition, 5,500 people viewed the damaged paintings. The conserved works went back on display on 23 May 2008, when the exhibition “Scream and Madonna — Revisited” at the Munch Museum in Oslo displayed the paintings together.[27] Some damage to “The Scream” may prove impossible to repair, but the overall integrity of the work has not been compromised.[28][29]
[edit] Record sale at auction
The 1895 pastel-on-board version of the painting, owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, sold at Sotheby’s for a record US$120 million at auction on 2 May 2012.[30] The bidding started at $40 million and lasted for over 12 minutes when an unnamed bidder by phone gave the final offer of US$119,922,500, including the buyer’s premium. Sotheby’s said the painting was the most colorful and vibrant of the four versions painted by Munch and the only version whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem, detailing the work’s inspiration.[31] After the sale, Sotheby’s auctioneer Tobias Meyer said the painting was “worth every penny”, adding: “It is one of the great icons of art in the world and whoever bought it should be congratulated.”[32]
The previous record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction had been held by Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which went for US$106.5 million at Christie’s two years prior on 4 May 2010.[33] When accounting for inflation, the highest price paid for art at an auction is still held by Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which sold for $82.5 million in 1990, or about $147 million 2012 dollars.[34] There have been reports that The Card Players, by Cézanne, sold privately for $250m in 2011,[35][3] which can not be verified for the establishment of a record price.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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