'Vampire' by Edvard Munch

'Love and Pain' by the expressionist/symbolist painter Edvard Munch, more commonly known as 'Vampire' (after its 'vampiric' interpretation by an art critic), has fetched 38.2 million dollars in auction, which is a record for any Munch painting. Although not as cosmopolitan as The Scream, Vampire is considered to be one of the iconic images in art history. The painting can be seen from a variety of perspectives, some even contradictory. I guess what meaning a person derives from the painting depends more on the subjective state of the viewer and his ideas about love. Does it depict two lovers locked in an embrace of consolation? Or is the man submitting himself in resignation to the woman who is sucking his blood like a vampire? The painting is a textbook candidate for artistic deconstruction. The dark background does seem to lend it a dark and macabre overtone, which is impossible to ignore. Are they a frightened couple clinging to each other as dark times lay siege around them? The painting raises more questions than it answers. The original title 'love and pain' seems to point towards love's paradox: that love can simultaneously be a source of tenderness and pain.

If you are interested in further exploration of the painting's meaning, you should see the diversity of interpretations presented by people here.