Modern icon of human anxiety
London - Arabstoday
The last version of Edvard Munch's masterpiece 'The Scream' still in public hands, will be sold this spring in New York, Sotheby's auction house have announced. Sotheby's estimates that the work, which has become a modern icon of human anxiety, will sell for $80 million (£50.6 million) or more.
The painting is one of four versions created by the Norwegian artist and the only one in private hands.
The 1895 drawing of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky is being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of Munch's.
'I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time,' Olsen said.
'Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work, which is the only version of 'The Scream' not in the collection of a Norwegian museum.'
The Munch Museum in Olso possesses one painted version of the work and another pastel version.
The second painting is displayed at The National Gallery of Norway.
But it is the pastel work that Olsen owns, which is thought to be the most colourful and vibrant of the four, that is up for auction.
It is also the only version still in its original frame hand-painted by the artist and includes his poem which explains his inspiration behind the work.
In the poem, Munch described himself 'shivering with anxiety' and said he felt 'the great scream in nature.'
The pastel is the only version that also features one of the two figures in the background looking out to the cityscape.
The director of the National Museum in Oslo, Audun Eckhoff, said that Norwegian authorities approved the Munch sale a few months ago.
'Our consideration was that it is acceptable, since several versions of `The Scream' remain in Norway,' he said.
Olsen said proceeds will go toward the establishment of a new museum, art center and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway, where Olsen's father and Munch were neighbours.
Sotheby's senior vice president Simon Shaw said the artwork is 'one of very few images which transcends art history and reaches a global consciousness.'
He added: 'For collectors and institutions, the opportunity to acquire such a singularly-influential masterpiece is unprecedented in recent times.'
If it fetched $80 million or more, it would place it alongside auction record holders, such as Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which holds the current record after it sold for $106m (£70m) at Christie's in New York in May 2010.
The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts in recent years.
In 2004, one of the paintings was stolen, along with Munch's Madonna artwork, but they were both recovered and put back on display four years later.
The sale will allow this 1895 version to go on public display in London and New York for the first time.
The work will be on view at Sotheby's in London starting April 13 and then in New York starting April 27.
The work will lead Sotheby's Impressionist and modern sale on May 2.