Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream (1895). (Photo: The Museum of Modern Art)
Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream (1895). (Photo: The Museum of Modern Art)

One of only four original versions of the iconic expressionist painting The Scream, created in 1895 by Norwegian Edvard Munch, is on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City for a six-month period.

This particular painting, the pastel version of Munch's masterpiece, is the most expensive artwork ever to be sold in a public auction, having fetched $120m (approximately £75m) at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art Auction on 2 May.

The other three versions were created as paintings, of which two, painted in 1893, are at the Munch Museum in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. The third, also in Oslo, is housed in the city's National Gallery.

"Of the four versions of The Scream that Munch created between 1893 and 1910, three are in the collections of museums in Norway, and this pastel is the only one remaining in private hands. The Scream is being lent from a private collection, and will be on view at MoMA through April 29, 2013," exhibition curators said in a statement.

Munch originally titled the paintings as Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature) and the iconic masterpiece features a turbulent man against the backdrop of a Norwegian landscape with orange sky.

"A haunting rendition of a hairless figure on a road under a yellow-orange sky, The Scream has captured the popular imagination since the time of its making. The image was originally conceived by Munch as part of the epic Frieze of Life series, which explored modern life by focusing on the themes of love, angst, and death," the curators added.

Munch's style of painting spoke of expression through symbols rather than physical reality. He was one of the pioneers of German Expressionism, the pre-World War art movement which saw artists expressing emotions in their artworks.

The Scream is widely recognised as an iconic masterpiece of expressionism in popular culture and, in description of his pastel version, Munch wrote the following lines, which bring out the emotion captured in the drawing:

"I was walking along the road with two of my friends. The sun set-the sky became a bloody red. And I felt a touch of melancholy-I stood still, dead tired-over the blue-black fjord and city hung blood and tongues of fire. My friends walked on-I stayed behind-trembling with fright-I felt the great scream in nature."