The Market Myth of The Scream

  On May 3, 2012, Beijing time, at Sotheby’s New York Special Impressionist and Modern Art auction, one of the representative works of Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch, The Scream (3rd edition, 1895) was finally sold with $107 million ($119.9 million in premium) fell, surpassing Picasso’s “Nude, Leafy and Bust” (May 5, 2010, $106 million) for the highest price ever paid at an art auction. Although Sotheby’s New York refused to disclose the identity of the buyer, it has never kept secret who the original owner of the painting is, namely the Norwegian rich Peter Olsen (Peter Olsen), who was well-known before the auction. Owner of the Olsen Collection.
  Munch painted four editions of The Scream, the earliest and last two editions separated by 17 years. The first edition of “The Scream” was painted in 1893 as a Temperaon Board, which is now collected in the Norwegian National Gallery; in the same year, he also painted a Crayon, which experts generally believe is the artist’s work. The original manuscript of the previous version, in terms of color, does not seem to be as complete as other versions, and is now in the collection of the Munch Museum in Oslo; the last version of “The Scream” is an egg white oil on wood panel, completed around 1910, this version It is also currently in the Munch Museum; the third edition of The Scream, which set an auction record, was painted in 1895. It is a color pink wood panel painting. The composition is most similar to the painting in the National Gallery. Collection.
  The Olsen family is the king of the Norwegian shipping industry, and Peter and his brother Frederick are the fifth generation. The Olsen Collection was actually established in the hands of their father, Thomas Fredrik Olsen, and in the late 20th century has become the world’s most important private collection of Munch paintings.
  Thomas’s collection of Edward Munch’s paintings was not only an appreciation of his art, but also a coincidence. In 1909, Munch bought a house in the small town of Hvitsten near the Oslo Fjord, next to the house of the Olsen family, so he and Thomas became neighbors. Munch was over 500 at the time, and Thomas was only in his twenties. The young rich first bought paintings, and then gradually became the painter’s friend and art patron. Before the start of World War II, Thomas had acquired more than 30 Munch paintings, including the third edition of The Scream, which was recently auctioned. Before the German invasion of Norway in April 1940, Thomas had already prepared for the worst: Munch had been banned from exhibiting in Germany by the Nazis on a list of “degenerate art” as early as the 1930s, so Thomas Hiding “The Scream” and 12 other Munch paintings in a remote barn in advance, he took his family and fled to England. The Nazi regime ruled Norway for five years, and none of the hidden paintings were found, and they were well preserved until after the war. Munch himself was not so lucky. The 82 paintings he kept on the second floor of his house were confiscated by the Nazis. Among them, 71 were bought back to the mainland by some Norwegian collectors after the war, and the remaining 11 were lost.
  ”Of the four editions, the 1895 edition of The Scream in the Olson Collection has the most It is rich in color and is the only one with the original frame, hand-painted by Munch and inscribed on the back with a poem written by Munch in 1892, which is considered to be an interpretation of the inspiration for the painting. The version is also special: the two figures in the background, one of which leans over the railing and faces the distant cityscape, which is different from the other three versions.”
  The frightened and deformed face and the strong clashing colors in “The Scream” have always been regarded as a symbol of the depressed spirit of modern people. As a classic “expression” in the 20th century, its schema was spread through print reproduction and print. The magnitude is almost comparable to that of the Mona Lisa in the history of art. Munch once described the situation that inspired the creation of “The Scream”: he was walking along the beach sidewalk with two friends, and it was sunset when the sky suddenly turned as red as blood. He was parked on the railing, tired beyond words. As the friends moved on, he fell behind, trembling with fear, when he heard nature’s violent, relentless scream. As a result, the tangled face was born, and it impressed countless people. Recently, scientists have explained this phenomenon. One study showed that people involuntarily imitate the expressions they see. Scientists used electromyography to record facial muscle responses when people watched pictures of faces with different expressions, and found that even a very short-lived facial expression picture would trigger reflex activities of the corresponding muscles. For example, angry expressions correspond to the contraction of the frown muscle and happiness. Triggers the stretch and contraction of the zygomaticus major. This shows that the imitation behavior has occurred at the moment when the observer receives the stimulus picture.
  Another study shows that the imitation of facial expressions can trigger corresponding emotional experiences, and The Scream undoubtedly perfectly interprets this from a more literary point of view: when the viewer unconsciously imitates this expression, the distorted facial lines and chaotic Skin color instantly activates the center of negativity, which allows us to experience vivid negativity, evoke memories of painful and traumatic events, put ourselves in the shoes of anxiety and fear, and even think about the meaning of life.
  Due to the needs of communication and mate selection, we are born with a high sensitivity to human faces, and our attention is easily drawn to them. “The Scream” touches on this nature. It was originally just an emotional catharsis triggered by Munch’s walk, but this emotion spreads into a cultural symbol as it touches more and more nerves. “The Scream” was criticized by the media as representing the widespread anxiety of modern people. It has been reproduced in many literary and film works (such as the alien villain in the British TV series “Doctor Who”). In addition, in poster and photo processing, distorted lines are often created by the post-processing of liquefaction filters in order to set off the hysterical shouting.
  Author Martha Tedeschi has commented: “Whistler’s ‘Mother’, Wood’s ‘American Gothic’, Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ and Munch’s ‘The American Goth’ “The Scream” has reached a height that other excellent works can’t reach, because it can convey its expressive meaning to every viewer at the flick of a finger, so that the social elites roaming in the museums, and the common people down to the streets and alleys can feel the same. ”
  Of course, it would be a joke to assume that The Scream’s record high price based on these studies is because we can resonate with that twisted face, and not everyone can afford nearly $120 million.
  Ahead of the auction, the edition of The Scream, described as “different”, was sent to Europe, North America and Asia, where it was displayed up close to top collectors in a secret room. The potential buyers speculated by the media include the Qatari royal family. The Qatari royal family, which is planning to build a museum, has made a lot of money in the past two years. It is said that it was bought by the Qatari royal family. The Wall Street Journal reported that Sotheby’s expert Philip Hook pointed out that there are no more than 10 collectors in the world who can afford to buy the painting, because he believes that collectors generally do not invest in a single work of art More than 1% of his total personal assets, so it seems that the person who bought “The Scream” may be the American cosmetics tycoon Ronald Lauder, the Greek ship king Philip Niarchos or the Russian tycoon Abramo. Vitch (Roman Abramovich) et al.
  Although these possible buyers of “The Scream” are like us taking 100 yuan to buy a bottle of mineral water for 1 yuan, there must be a reason for the rich to become rich. People who squander their wealth can only be considered upstarts, not rich. In recent years, these tycoons have repeatedly broken records in the art auction market, and there are profound economic factors.
  First, The Scream is unique and rare enough. At the height of the financial crisis in the summer of 2008, collectors, auction house consultants and art dealers feared that the art market would be affected, and a few months later, the fears became a reality, with a $25 million estimate of Van Gogh’s works flowing. auction, the auction volume dropped sharply, and the buyer exited the market. In the 2009 Spring Auctions, the total sales of post-war contemporary art, Impressionism and Modern Art were US$421.2 million, which was lower than the US$803.3 million in the 2008 Autumn Auctions, and much lower than the US$1.6 billion in the 2008 Spring Auctions. This is the lowest point in seven years, and the financial crisis has severely dampened the art market.
  But some super-rich collectors can find opportunities when the market is down. Whether it is Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” or Munch’s “The Scream”, they are all collections that will not change hands easily in the hands of private collectors, and they all go through fierce competition at auctions before they finally fall under the hammer. It can be seen that no matter how sluggish the economic situation is, rare works can attract buyers. The uniqueness of “The Scream” gives buyers confidence to sell, because if you buy it right, there will be high returns, as one dealer put it: a small group of international buyers are willing to spend big on rare art. This is the reason why new highs appear from time to time despite the overall downturn in the global art market.
  Second, buyers are throwing big bucks at Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust and Munch’s The Scream, not just because they’re important works of modern art, but because they’re good investment products.
  With the national debt slump, the stock market sluggish, and the gold price too high, there really aren’t many better investment options right now. Long before the financial crisis, some people in the art world pointed out that art has a higher rate of return than stocks. The stock market has been up and down, while the work of some artists has been appreciating. And transaction prices tend to have more to do with the artist’s fame (rather than artistic achievement). In the art market, people tend to worship celebrities rather than heroes. In 1961, historian Daniel Bustin pointed out: “Heroes are distinguished by their achievements, and celebrities are known by their images.” Picasso and Munch were trailblazers for art historians, and they were for the market by the media and The famous masters are sought after by money, so the economic value of their works is much higher than the aesthetic value. For buyers, their work is a good investment because it protects against the risks of inflation and economic instability, while at the same time sharing with friends and the public the unique bonus of art – spiritual pleasure and recognition sense.