Sotheby’s in New York sale of ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch

Sotheby's employees pose for a photograph with Edvard Munch's painting

Sotheby’s employees pose for a photograph with Edvard Munch’s painting

Sotheby’s in New York must have been a-buzz with activity when an anonymous person spent nearly $120 million for a pastel version of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.

Given my natural disposition to help the poor before helping myself with my money, I think if I’d spent that kind of money — which would never happen  in my world — for a ‘version’ of  a work of anything I’d want to be anonymous myself!

But, we are talking Auction at Sotheby’s in New York and a pretty amazing and important work of art.  Still, I can’t stop thinking of Sotheby’s as a place where the ridiculously wealthy anti-up sums of cash to play important person for a minute because they want to be gathers of ‘stuff’ important to them.  Being that this sale set a new world record for art sold at auction  —  I can’t help myself, or keep myself, from mentioning this in my blob.  Why?  Simply because I am wondering why it is some persons in this lovely world of ours place such value on another person’s words or another person’s art or another person’s history.  Is ‘The Scream’ really worth over a million?  What is there to gain from ownership of ‘The Scream’?  And, why is this art so  important?

I know I am a small fish in a very large pond but my mind is vast and it wonders about such things.

I needed some education about the art I’ve spotted on T-shirts and mugs, etc. over the past few decades.  Actually, I once picked up (as in held in my hands) a mug with the hairless androgynous creature with his mouth agape and his hands covering his ears (my assumption is ‘his’ is a male figure) and almost immediately put it back on the shelve.  It didn’t ‘speak to me’ of anything but terror but now I’m wondering if I made the right choice in not buying it.  That mug, strategically placed on the bookcase right in front of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy might have added some unexpected  interest, allowing a chuckle or two.  Although, I’m not sure who would chuckle or why.

Here is a run down on the facts of the art as gleaned from articles I read this morning.  And, the reason why I’m wondering if I should have bought that mug, if only, to increase my bookcase glamour.

According to accounts Munch made four versions of  The Scream, two were in oil and two were in pastel.  The pastel which sold last night was a 1895 pastel-on-board and the last of the four Munch produced — which remained in a private collectors hands.  The other three are already in museum collections.  The auction bidding, almost exclusively by phone, lasted only 12 minutes — a fact I find quite interesting — also interesting to me is that the collectors and dealers in the actual salesroom applauded & whistled when the price crossed the $100 million mark.  The excitement must have been intense.  The bidding winner is a client of Sotheby’s vice chairman for Impressionist and modern art — Charles Moffett  — who must be celebrating his guys win even at this hour.  I learned the art was in the collection of Petter Olsen, a Norwegian businessman, whose father was friend and neighbor and patron of Edvard Munch.  Peter Olsen said, and I quote, “‘The Scream’ is about anxiety about approaching and anticipating death and today serves as a warning about climate change.” and then added “‘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.”  I also learned the proceeds will help establish a new gallery in Norway where Munch and Thomas Olsen lived and for the use of Peter Olsen’s private collection, which, apparently will not include “The Scream”, at least not this one.  Peter Olsen is also restoring Munch’s house and studios.  A business venture to be sure.

Whether of not the forth Scream will go to a museum as Renee Belfer, a trustee emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art hopes for is anyones guess.

I hope it does.


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