Munch's Scream is an icon of modern art, Munch defined the way we see our own age, riddled with anxiety and uncertainty.
The Scream is essentially autobiographical, an expressionist construction based on Munch's actual experience of a scream piercing through nature on a walk after his two companions, seen in the background, have left him. Munch renders the scream in a style where it can destroy human integrity. See more
Several facts indicate that Munch was aware of the danger of such art for a neurotic humanist like himself. He quickly abandoned this style and rarely, if ever, subjected a prominent figure to this kind of radical and systematic distortion.
At the top of another version of the subject (National Gallery of Oslo) he writes: "Can only have been painted by a madman". He certainly had a horror of madness, which had afflicted his sister Laura. In the painting he has set up a defence, in the form of the plunging perspective of the road and its fence, which preserves a rational three-dimensional world, keeping the swell of the curves of the art nouveau at bay.
The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the National Gallery version was stolen. It was recovered a few months later.