News ID: 280983
Published: 0245 GMT February 22, 2021

Munch wrote ‘madman’ graffiti on ‘The Scream’ painting, scans show

Munch wrote ‘madman’ graffiti on ‘The Scream’ painting, scans show

Artist Edvard Munch wrote mysterious graffiti on his painting of ‘The Scream,’ infrared scans showed.

A small and barely visible sentence written on one of the world’s most well-known paintings has been the cause of much conjecture in the art world, BBC wrote.

The words, “Can only have been painted by a madman”, are inscribed in pencil in the top left-hand corner.

Now, new tests made by The National Museum of Norway have confirmed they were made by the man himself.

The original painting, first displayed in Munch’s home city, Oslo (then Kristiania), in 1893, has become a radical and timeless expression of human anxiety. Its influence stretches as far as the 90s’ ‘Hollywood Scream’ horror film series, and on to the modern-day emoji.

The artwork has undergone conservation in preparation for its installation in the new museum, which is due to open in the Norwegian capital next year.

Art critics have long questioned whether the graffiti was an act of vandalism done by an outraged spectator, or written by Munch himself – who was known to have had mental health problems throughout his life.

The museum came to the conclusion the words were written by Munch, after using technology to analyze the handwriting and compare it with his own diaries and letters.

“The writing is without a doubt Munch’s own,” said museum curator Mai Britt Guleng.

“The handwriting itself, as well as events that happened in 1895, when Munch showed the painting in Norway for the first time, all point in the same direction.”

In 1994, ‘The Scream’ was stolen from a Norwegian art museum. It was recovered in a daring undercover operation by British detectives.

The work provoked strong criticism at the time along with public speculation around Munch’s mental state.

Munch, according to his diaries, was profoundly hurt by the reaction and it is believed he returned to the painting to add his penciled statement afterwards.

Both Munch’s father and sister suffered bouts of depression and Munch was finally hospitalized after a nervous breakdown in 1908.

His mother and older sister both died before the artist turned 14, his father died 12 years later, and another sister was admitted to an asylum, with bipolar disorder.

“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art,” Munch wrote.

‘The Scream’ will be displayed with a number of Munch’s other works in The National Museum of Norway from 2022.



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