A couple of weeks ago I had a moment alone with Edvard Munch’s “Scream” which sold last fall for just under 120 million dollars. That’s an obscene amount for a pastel on cardboard, even if it was drawn in 1895. They say it is the most expensive piece of art ever to be sold at auction (to date, anyway). A friend got me early admittance into Manhattan’s Museum Of Modern Art on a Sunday morning, an hour before the hordes invade the building. I headed straight for the 5th floor and suddenly, there I was – my wife and a guard the only company – standing before one of the world’s most iconic images. In the eerie semi-darkness I was struck by its simplicity. How had the artist been able to capture, in that little hairless caricature, the anxiety and uncertainty that haunts each of us?
Staring at it, I thought about all the times I’d felt worn out, overwhelmed and stretched to my limits, maybe even a little desperate. It was so much easier to admit to these feelings when I didn’t have to search inside to find them. Here they were before me, visualized in scribbled streaks of red, orange, blue, and black.
Facing “Scream” – barely 50 feet away – was another blockbuster work of art that has also continued to tug at our universal unconscious: Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry night”, with its broad pallet knife sweep of stars and sky. Looking at it up close, you can sense him relentlessly pushing the thick paint around, … [ continue reading ]