Friday, October 22, 2004

Andre Scream, originally uploaded by Art or Idiocy?.

In 1994, the first Scream (1893, oil, tempera & pastel on cardboard) was stolen from its home in Norway's National Gallery. It was the opening day of the Olympics in Lillehammer. Thieves broke in at night by climbing up a ladder and in a window before snatching it off the wall. The painting was not secured in any substantial way and not connected to an alarm system. A psychic was called in and had a vision of pieces of wood tangled in wire in a body of water. Authorities found the remnants of the painting's frame and "security device" on the edge of a pond, just as the psychic had divined. The painting was eventually recovered three months later when the crooks were unable to secure a ransom for it. Could they be at it again?

Unfortunately, many news reports failed to make the distinction between the two versions of The Scream, if they even realized there was more than one. Some even reproduced the wrong one, including a notable British news organization. Gasp! Scandal! I know... Perhaps it is crass, but I am glad that the iconic famous one is not the one stolen two months ago.

There are four versions of The Scream. According to Ulrich Bischoff, in his monograph on Munch, fifty versions exist. He can only be including the various lithographs and prints which exist of this image in addition to the four paintings.

Again, inaccuracies riddle this story. A definitive breakdown of the numbers and natures of the works was found at The Munch Museum's website ( There are two paintings, the National Gallery owns the afore-mentioned one, The Munch Museum owns the other. There are also two pastels, The Munch Museum owns one and the other is in a private collection. It is The Munch Museum's painting of The Scream which was most recently stolen. Both the paintings are executed on cardboard, with a sketched version on the reverse of the one in the National gallery. The Munch Museum also has a sheet of paper with several sketches relating to The Scream doodled on it.

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