The Scream is without a doubt Munch’s most well-known and most representational painting and one of the most famous paintings of all times, most likely due to the creativity and concentration of the subject. It is a seminal expressionist painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. It is said by some to symbolize modern man taken by an attack of existential angst. (Whaley 75) The Scream was painted in 1893, a time of intense changes in European societies. This confusion was echoed in the artistic creations of the time, which had been freed by the Impressionists twenty years earlier and was becoming increasingly complex. Edvard Munch’s work lies someplace between Symbolism and Expressionism, much like other painters of his generation such as James Ensor, Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
At that time in history, Norway was still attached to Sweden (and would be until 1905) and entire Europe went through a phase of turmoil that would terminate with the two world wars of the 20th century. This decadent atmosphere was a great source of inspiration for those who would soon become the Expressionists and for all the artists who would justify artistic freedom.
These anxieties were shared by Munch. As early as 1899, in Germany, Max Liebermann was leading a group of young radicals which Munch joined, but the latter soon created a scandal at the Verein Bildender Künstler, where the group had exhibited their work, with one of his paintings.