A Look at Edvard Munch’s ‘Scream’ in Pop Culture

“The painting showed a hairless, oppressed creature with a head like an inverted pear, its hands clapped in horror to its ears, its mouth open in a vast, soundless scream,” Rick Deckard from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? descriptively observes. By now, the screaming fellow has become a pop culture icon, popping up with his mouth agape in film, literature, art, and animation. There’s even a set of Scream-inspired finger puppets. In celebration of Edvard Munch’s 148th birthday, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite cultural remixes of this notoriously neurotic gent.


Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893. Courtesy of the National Gallery, Oslo, Norway

The original painting may or may not have been inspired by the fiery hues of the European sky during the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. It also might have been inspired by the proximity of a madhouse and a slaughterhouse to the artwork’s subject’s supposed Oslo location. Another theory is that Munch saw a really awesome sunset and the natural splendor of it filled the artist with terrible anxiety, which he manifested in his subject’s now iconic body-contorting, face-stretching and mouth-drooping.