Statement from Petter Olsen

Statement from Petter Olsen to the media after the sale of the Scream at Sotheby’s New York, May 2012.


I hope that the publicity given by this sale will increase public interest in Munch’s work and awareness of the important message that I feel it conveys.

The Scream for me shows the horrifying moment when man realizes his impact on nature and the irreversible changes that he has initiated, making the planet increasingly uninhabitable.

The image of The Scream could make more of us fathom the magnitude of the consequences of our continuing emissions of greenhouse gases. This will inevitably lead to the triggering of uncontrollable feedback mechanisms that lie latent in the physics of nature.

They will kick in, slowly at first, then accelerate, causing the earth to become overheated. The biosphere will shrink and there will be less oxygen, water and food. More death, less life. And very few lifeboats left as we go down.

Munch’s most important work The Frieze of Life, never finalized, but existing in many versions, has as its theme Love, Anxiety and Death. The Scream is about Anxiety approaching and anticipating Death.

Munch’s hand painted poem on the frame ends with the words «The Great Scream in Nature.» It is as if Munch has had a premonition of what man was going to inflict on nature.

Meanwhile, Munch will continue to be a major force in my life. With my own Munch project I would like to focus on Life and Love.