The first reports that I read about the recent theft in Norway of two of Edward Munch's paintings concentrated only on "The Scream." As a result, my only thoughts on the matter were, "How sad. I hope they find it." Then, later on, I read Boing Boing's account of the theft, which included pictures of both "The Scream" and "Madonna." I was instantly overwhelmed by a rush of emotion.
I first came across Munch's "Madonna" in high school. It was long enough ago that I cannot remember the details of the situation (part of a handout in our discussion of aesthetics in AP English during the fall of senior year, perhaps?), but somehow a copy of the painting ended up on a bulletin board in that bastion of intellectual thought known as the Writing Center. I also remember that the painting only stayed up for a few days before it was taken down; I think some might have thought it was put up with pornographic intentions.
Regardless, I find it extremely interesting that the painting is able to arouse (ed. - interesting word choice...) such feelings in me. Perhaps it is the fact that the red nimbus surrounding her head makes no attempt at covering her hair, suggesting that even the most holy of us is still "only human." Or maybe it is the lack of engagement with the viewer, suggested by her closed eyes and hidden hands. I like this painting, and might buy a print of it.
Also from Boing Boing comes this hilarious London News Review article about the theft:
The head of information for the Munch Museum, Jorunn Christophersen, was amazed that the paintings had been so easily stolen: ?they are stuck to the wall with solid screws? she explained. ?Solid screws? would foil only the most brilliant art thieves, and Christophersen is convinced that this was a carefully planned job: ?They knew exactly where the paintings were and took them down from the wall.? In other words, it wasn?t an impulse-crime. They weren?t just wandering around the gallery in their balaclavas, thinking: ?oh, these two are rather nice, shall we steal them??