The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Adam Smith

May 10, 2012

Price paid for Munch’s painting a real ‘scream’

— I was straining my brain Thursday morning playing “Words With Friends” on my phone with a stranger when I received a news alert that made me do a double take.

The alert was the news that Edvard Munch’s iconic work of art “The Scream” had been sold at auction for just shy of $120 million. Apparently, the price constituted a new auction record.

According to The Associated Press, the previous record for an artwork sold at auction was $106.5 million for Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust.” I don’t know much about Picasso, but the title of his work certainly seems more intriguing than “The Scream.”

After reading about Thursday’s high bidder, two thoughts immediately came to mind: 1) Who has $120 million to spend on one piece of art; and 2) If I had more money than sense, what elaborate purchase would I allow myself?

Considering we’re still living in an economy that has yet to bounce back to pre-2008 levels after four years of trying, headlines like that always make me wonder if the economy is truly as bad as we’re often led to believe.

If we were on the brink of another Great Depression, would someone really spend $120 million on a picture of a guy holding his head and screaming? Then again, maybe “The Scream” is really an accurate portrait of the times we live in. I’ve certainly had days in which I’d like to imitate the famous image.

I took art appreciation in both high school and college, but I’m not sure how much I appreciate art. The only thing I remember about the college class was that my teacher looked exactly like my dad.

In terms of tastes, I tend to be drawn more toward colors than a general message, and would prefer to stare at a real photo of a tranquil sunset or rustic cabin than a bunch of expressionism. I don’t need art to feel important; that’s the job of my ego.

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