this post is part of the Bay Area “field notes” series.
“The color shrieked.”
I was twelve when I fell in love with Edvard Munch’s autobiographical The Scream (1893). Utterly unprepared, I flipped through a generic “Best Artists of the 20th Century” book and recoiled in repugnance at the iconic face that howled back at me.
The Scream is tucked away in Oslo’s National Gallery, but its two cousins hang side-by-side at SFMOMA’s special exhibit: Anxiety (1894) and Despair (1893-4). I hadn’t realized (before setting off the alarm trying to get a good look at the two #freeme) that Scream is actually one-third of a triptych. Throughout the exhibit, I kept returning to these three: every next painting is The Scream repurposed, Anxiety reimagined, or the subject of Despair recast in a different hue of melancholy.