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  • Art and English Lessons: The Scream

    Do you like art? Are you learning English? Talking about artwork is a great way to practice your English conversation. Below you’ll find some great English vocabulary for talking about art.

    The Scream is the name given to a series of expressionist paintings by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

    The paintings date back to the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, the series is scattered around Norway in both public and private collections.

    Today, the painting has become so popular that it has entered popular culture. It is featured in advertising campaigns, cartoons and fans of Wes Craven’s Scream movie series will recognize it as the inspiration for the Ghostface killer’s mask.

    What does the figure depict?

    The painting depicts a solitary figure on what is thought to be a promenade (walkway) overlooking Oslo.

    What words would you use to describe the expression on the figure’s face?

    Why do you think the figure is holding his head in his hands?

    There is a term in English to describe people with extreme social anxiety. This term is Agoraphobia. Do you think it applies here?

    Some experts have said that the figure could be based on a mummy which Munch had seen at an exhibition in Paris.

    Do you think this is plausible?

    Sometimes the isolated state of the figure is compared with a disorder called Depersonalization Syndrome in which a person feels a sense of alienation from his/her surroundings and peers.

    Do you think such a reading could be accurate?

    How would you describe the relationship between the figure and the couple standing behind him?

    What does the background depict?

    What do you think the vivid colors in the background of the painting represent?

    Some people have suggested that the painting was created at the same time of the eruption of the Indonesian volcano of Krakatoa, the ashes of which later spread throughout Europe.

    Do you think this could be the case or do you think Munch’s choice of colors was more metaphoric than literal?

    What do you think of Munch’s choice of a promenade to locate the figure?

    See if you learn more about The Scream in this video.

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