Munch/Warhol: Opening speech in Ankara
President and Mrs Gül,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
It is a true pleasure for me to open the exhibition "Munch, Warhol and the Multiple Image" – during this first state visit between Turkey and Norway. And I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit this splendid art centre – the CerModern.
During the last 2 years, I have had the pleasure of opening several exhibitions with works by Munch – like The Modern Eye in Paris, London and in Oslo. These exhibitions received almost 1 million visitors if we, in addition, include the Frankfurt show.
This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch’s birth. In Norway, this is a nationwide celebration, and the two main exhibitions in Oslo have been seen by almost half a million people. Quite an impressive figure in a country with 5 million inhabitants?
I greatly appreciate this excellent contribution to the celebration here in Ankara with original works by Edvard Munch and Andy Warhol.
Only 6 months ago, I opened a similar exhibition in New York, and I am sure it will be a great pleasure to see the artworks once again. Munch is still very relevant. As is Warhol!
The motifs on display here have each gained iconic standing in art history. Munch produced these lithographic series at the turn of the century, and they were all re-interpreted by Andy Warhol.
Celebrating Munch this year, this exhibition shows us the strong connections between the works of the very early modernist Munch and Warhol’s pop art.
In Warhol’s prints from 1984, produced 13 years after he visited Oslo, he copies Munch – but the result is still unique. He interprets the works in his own way, without losing Munch’s intensity.
Warhol said: "They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself". Maybe this is one of the reasons why Warhol chose to copy these masterpieces?
Munch gazed inwards and explored our deepest emotions – like anxiety, love and jealousy. He said: "No longer will I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love."
But Warhol - he turned outwards and said: “I am a deeply superficial person.”
There are, of course, obvious differences between these two highly innovative artists. Nevertheless, the similarities are remarkable. They both repeated their works, they were equally pioneers in promoting themselves – and both used photography as studies.
Warhol expressed his views in a single sentence: “When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums.”
And we can ask ourselves: What is the difference between fine art and commercial art? Or – even more basic: What is art?
Maybe it is in the eye of the beholder? Maybe the link between the work of art and the object lies in our perception? And maybe Warhol’s interpretation of Munch helps us to reflect on his work – and perhaps look at art from a different angle?
Unfortunately, I never met Edvard Munch – but in 1982, I had the chance to meet Andy Warhol in his studio, The Factory in New York. Today, I meet them both – and so do you!
I would like to congratulate CerModern on an exciting exhibition. It brings together two of the most recognisable and celebrated figures of modern and contemporary art.
I am therefore proud to declare this exhibition open!