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Page last updated at 06:58 GMT, Friday, 13 April 2012 07:58 UK

What makes The Scream so iconic?

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Edvard Munch's famous masterpiece The Scream goes on display in London for one week from today, before it's sold at auction in New York next month.

A Sotheby's spokesperson has suggested the artwork's price tag could exceed £50m.

Professor Martin Kemp, emeritus professor of the History of Art at Oxford University and author of Christ To Coke - How Image Becomes Icon said that it is the "sheer power of the image... the communicative power which manages to transmit... that elemental power" that makes it so iconic.

Sue Prideaux, biographer and author of Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream explained that Munch was hitting 30 when he painted the work and "incredibly unsuccessful as an artist".

"He had insanity in his family," she explained and "his sister had just been committed to a madhouse" and he too feared he would go mad.

She went on to say that Munch lived near the asylum where his sister was sectioned which was near the local abattoir, and heard the screams coming from both of these places.

Professor Kemp said a large number of iconic images are about faces and "decoding the expression".


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