The Scream, by Edvard Munch
People like to blame the cold and dark of Edvard Munch's native Norway for the misery of his paintings, but mainly he came from a messed-up family background.
Here’s how he describes his inspiration for The Scream:
For most of his life, he was pretty crazy, a lot of it on purpose, and his paintings were full of angst, even — especially? — his love-related works. Regarding The Kiss, interpretations of the merged faces have ranged from plain old unity of the lovers to a loss of individuality akin to death. One critic said the faces look like a gigantic deaf ear; another said the smaller person looks like a carp getting ready to eat the bigger person.
For a long time, Munch didn’t sell many paintings, mainly because he thought of them as “his children” and preferred to make money by charging admission to see them (they were considered controversial), rather than by selling them.
In 1908, after Munch’s misery reached a breaking point, exacerbated by drinking and fighting — including an encounter with a gun that injured two of his fingers — he underwent eight months of rehab, which remarkably helped him so much that his paintings became cheerier, and sold better. He followed his doctor’s advice to hang out only with his good friends, and to never drink in public, and he was able thereafter to make a good living, buy property, and provide well for his family.