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More about Scream

jtucker's picture


Between the perturbed face in this sculpture and the name Scream, you’re probably thinking this is going to be one depressing piece of art.

You’d be half right. There are multiple interpretations of this sculpture, and they both deal with pain and suffering. But ultimately this is a piece about the beauty of life. All’s well that ends well, right?

Kadishman was a religious man and he commonly weaved his beliefs into his art. It is safe to assume that Kadishman loved the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac because he referenced this story in his art all the time, in this one and in other pieces such as In Suspense. It is believed that this sculpture references devout Abraham who was willing to do anything to prove his loyalty to the big man upstairs. So willing in fact, that he was prepared to shank his own child to prove it. The face on this sculpture is said to represent Isaac. The open mouth has been a symbol in art history since the time of ancient Greece and is believed to represent the loss of rational restraint. And yes, I would say killing your own kid is pretty irrational. And I’d scream too if Daddy was coming to get me in the name of God.

Alternatively, this sculpture preceded Kadishman’s “Birth” series and could also be referring that. In this series, the Great Mother is the focus. She represents both the struggle and beauty of childbirth. If we take this explanation to heart, we can see the face of a screaming woman and the circle as her pregnant womb as she experiences the “beautiful miracle” of childbirth.

Personally, I like the second interpretation better. But either way, both stories feature pain and suffering that ultimately shows an excitement for faith and life. Well worth the scream.