“I scream, you scream. We all scream for ice cream.”
Before calling somebody, I asked Uncle Pundit what that was all about.
“The ‘Scream.’ They stole it again! Eddie Monk’s picture.”
I believe they call it a painting, Uncle. By Edvard Munch. And it was a different one from that stolen before. Only this one wasn’t stolen in the strict sense. It was taken by force of arms from a Norwegian museum.
“So you know about it? That the Washington Post quotes an unnamed ‘art expert’ as saying it could be worth as much as 70 million! Now is our chance. Our golden opportunity.”
To what? Buy it?
“Buy it? Who in hades would buy it? No, to devalue it. To explain to the world that it has been conned for generations by the elitists who pretend to see something in that god-awful thing that is valuable. Norway now could surpass its usefulness in World War Two!
“Don’t reach for that phone. Lemme explain. Monk, or ‘Munch‘ if you got a bad cold, whipped out four of these in the 1890s. Said he had the crap scared out of him one night on a bridge over a fjord, so he painted this spooky thing with its hands up to its ears and mouth open yelling. Did four of ’em. There was lots of silent screaming in those days; the fear there was no God, no order, existentialism just catching on. You know. Monk caught ’em just right. The beginning of Expressionism. That’s what a 3-year-old does to embarrass his Mom in a crowded department store.”
Am I to gather you are not an exponent of the Expressionist Movement and that the ‘Scream’ does not speak — or should I say ‘yell’ at you?
“Damn straight. And not to a lot of other people either. Folks wondering which side of their new Picasso goes up. But now is our chance. Norway’s chance. The world’s chance. What they do is make an offer on the front page of the Oslo newspaper.
Reward for the return of the ‘Scream’ taken at gun point Sunday from the Munch Museum. 20 dollars cash. No questions asked.“
Uncle Pundit, are you crazy? They say the work is worth at least 70 million!
“They say. That’s the point. Who are they? When did they say it? You see, we were busy while they were deciding for us. We were fighting World Wars, depressions, ideological battles, and the old wolf at the door. When we finally got a moment and caught our breath, there they were, holding up some god-awful art and some god-awful writing, and saying to us, ‘See? This is what’s good. And if you don’t believe it, just ask the guy who got rich off all those wars and depressions and who just paid 70-million dollars for it!”
I have heard that Picasso sometimes sniggered at the prices people would pay, and he ground them out like popcorn.
“This chance to revalue, it shouldn’t stop with art. We should look at all of it, with the elitist price tags off. Value what speaks to us, what tugs at that little pit in the stomach, what says ‘this is true’ to us. Or even, and I’d go that far, that looks so real that we want to touch it. Remember what old Charlie Russell said after his wife moved to California and began to get recognition for his works?”
What’d he say, Uncle?
“Said all of a sudden he was getting ‘dead man’s prices.’ And he was man enough, and artist enough, to be amazed. Now, who were you about to call when this started out?”
“Then get me the Oslo information operator, please.”