• Amsterdam: Screams in Art


Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893 National Gallery Norway.

Amsterdam has, since a couple of days an other blockbuster exhibition. With much fanfare and a lot of money from the Blockbuster fund (yes, it really exists), the Turing Foundation, Van Ende Foundation, the Ministry and many others, we are spoiled for the third time this year  with an ‘experience of a lifetime’.  Other official blockbusters this year were Late Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum and The Oasis of Matisse in the Stedelijk Museum.

About the word Blockbuster: Brittanica:  Blockbuster, a highly explosive word not usually associated with art, has now entered the lexicon as a term applied to art exhibitions. By 1996 so-called blockbuster exhibitions–big, popular, moneymaking showcases that delivered a powerful impact–had become important sources of direct and indirect revenue, visibility, and prestige for museums worldwide.

As of September 27, 2015, we can, in Amsterdam, compare Munch and Van Gogh, two artists that never met in real life. In this exhition one of  the versions of The scream by Munch.

From the Museum webiste:

‘With Iconic Materpieces

For the first time, the exhibition studies in detail the similarities between both artists. Among more than one hundred artworks, there are several iconic masterpieces and works on special loan which are rarely lent out, such as The scream and Madonna by Edvard Munch and Starry night over the Rhone and Patience Escalier (‘The farmer’) by Vincent van Gogh.’

Perhaps this is a good moment to put  attention on a few not world famous but powerfull  ‘screams’ in Amsterdam.

Just for a fresh feeling.

Wolvecamp schreeuw

Untitled, Theo Wolvecamp   14 x 16 cm private collection.

About the artist:: Theo Wolvecamp 1925-1992

Writer, designer and poet Jan Elburg, who belonged, with Wolvecamp, to the Experimental Group and Cobra (see elswhere on this website about Cobra), looked back on Wolvecamp as follows:

‘The most impressive contribution to the meetings, however, was actually the silence emanating from the ever-present Theo Wolvecamp, the youngest among us. I called him Theophile the Mule in my head, because his reticence came across as rather mulish. Mind you, it wasn’t anything to do with a lack of experimental nature – the advanced work of the youthful Wolvecamp was a boost to his club mates from the start – but he just didn’t seem to get much out of the discussion. After moving from the east of the country he shared a studio with Karel Appel and came along with him, probably because it was more fun keeping silent among friends than on his own at the easel. ’

Wolvecamp about his work: ‘I believe that good painting is art that is able to get a certain emotional meaning across. When you look at a painting you have to make contact with it, it has to strike the right chord. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a still life, or a landscape or an abstract piece, it’s the contact that matters’, he explained.

Achieving this did not come easy. ‘I’m extremely critical, so I don’t produce much. I paint six or seven canvases a year, at the most. If the piece doesn’t completely match my feelings I destroy it or paint over it. On average I work on about fifteen canvases at a time, but it usually take months and sometimes even years before I’m really satisfied.’

Karel Appel and Wolvecamp

Karel Appel and Wolvecamp were close friends right up to the end. Appel visited Wolvecamp when he was in the Netherlands and he read a poem at Wolvecamp’s funeral. Appel admired Wolvecamp and painted his portrait.

Portret Theo Wolvecamp door Karel Appel

Karel Appel Portrait of Theo Wolvecamp, 1957 gouache 49.5 x 65 cm Ambassade Hotel Collection, Amsterdam

Oddly enough, Wolvecamp is readily recognizable in this portrait, which you cannot say of most of Appel’s other portraits. Was it made based on a modification? You can see a few beautiful details in the painting, such as the red lines squeezed straight out of the tube and onto the canvas. This time they are almost tender. ‘Painting is a tangible, sensory experience. And being deeply moved by the joy and the tragedy of mankind’, is just one of the many quotes by Appel about his discipline.

A few years later, 1n 1961,Appel painted another portrait.  In this one you can see scream.


Karel Appel, Door een DAAD aan het daglicht getreden om zijn schoonheid te tonen. 2 x 2 meter, Private collection.

And from October 29 till November 1 2015 you can see this Scream at the Tribal Art Fair.


This statue from West Nepal (Humla district) will be presented at the TAF by Karavanserai, Maastricht. He calls the statue “the Scream”.


Wolvecamp/Appel text from the book : Cobra on the canal (2013) about the Cobra collection in the Ambassade Hotel in Amsterdam.  copyrights are paid by the publisher Samsara.

See for more on Appel elswhere on this site.

Translation (Theo Wolvecamp / Appel) : Vivien Cook

All photos on this site are not intended for any commercial purpose. I have tried to trace all the rules and rights of all images. As far as I know, these images can be used in this way. If you ar a copyright holder and would like a piece of your work removed or the creditline changed then please do not hesitate to contact me.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: