By Johna Till Johnson
Last night, some friends and I went to go see the Munch Exhibit at the Met. I’ve been a fan of Edvard Munch since I first saw his work as a teenager in Norway. So when one of my friends mentioned he had never seen the iconic “Scream” in real life, I was delighted to accompany him, his wife, and another friend to the exhibit.
Munch made many versions of his most famous work, including “Scream”, some as wood cuts, others in oil. So although we weren’t lucky enough to see a color version of the piece, we did get to see a black-and-white woodcut.
But while looking through images in preparation for the visit, I noticed something I’d never noticed before.
See if you can see it in the image above… Look towards the horizon… on the water…
Do you see them?
Yes! Quite clearly those are proto-paddleboarders in the background, braving the cold Norwegian waters. All the way back in 1900! Norwegians have always been avant-guard, and Munch was famous for his innovative eye. Apparently he could see into the future!
I pointed this out to my friends when we saw the wood cut. And we all agreed. For sure, those were paddleboarders. Somehow Munch had managed to place a sport that did not yet exist in the center of his most iconic image.
It wasn’t until we compared the image with a photo of the same area that we had to acknowledge they were the masts of small sailboats. But we still preferred our interpretation.
But that wasn’t the end of the surprises that evening. While inspecting Munch’s many self-portraits, I kept having a nagging feeling of familiarity, and not just because I’d seen them before. Hmmm…
Yes, indeed! The resemblance was remarkable! Edvard Munch and Steve Buscemi share not only features but the same intense, haunted stare.
Finally, just because I love it so much, here’s Munch’s Madonna, which is my favorite work of his. Enjoy!