Saturday, April 14, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1525:
Up for Auction, Up for Interpretation -
Edvard Munch's "The Scream"

Edvard Munch's painting, "The Scream", goes on the action block in New York Next month. Sotheby's expects it to fetch more than $80 Million. The primary emotion being displayed here is that of surprise. There are also components of fear and empathy. It is interesting to note that a more careful translation to English is "Shriek". 

The combination of the highly characteristic widely opened, oval mouth with the eyelids also opened very widely - is classic body language display for the emotion of surprise. The "white and wide" eyes are also consistent with fear. Full palmar (palm of the hand) contact in this context signals empathy - although this would have more fully captured had Munch painted the subject's hands a bit more forward on the face - perhaps even with a partial mouth or eye cover. The eyes (right more so than the left) looking downward-and-to-the-right, adds to the deep emotional tone of this expression. If this were a photograph of a real person, the subject in the foreground would very likely be looking at the rapid unfolding of a tragedy.

See also:

Secret # 617: Ginger White and Herman Cain

Secret # 21: Surprise + Fear + Empathy

Secret # 269: I Just Remembered + Surprise

Updated 3 May 2012 - "The Scream" sold for $119,900,000 yesterday: