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Andy Warhol, Madonna and Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm (After Munch)
Andy Warhol, Madonna and Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm (After Munch).
Photo: Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum
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This spring, the exhibition “Andy Warhol – After Munch” assembles two of modern art’s major figures. Perhaps the Norwegian expressionist and the American pop artist aren’t as different as we might imagine?

Published: 20 April 2018

Over the last few years, The Munch Museum has broken previous attendance records with exhibitions recontextualizing and showing Edvard Munch’s works alongside other artists, from van Gogh and Gaugin to Bjarne Melgaard and Robert Mapplethorpe. 

This season, the museum has another treat in store for art lovers. The exhibition Andy Warhol – After Munch, opening May 26, presents the Norwegian master’s influence and impact on the pop art icon.

Surface versus soul searching

Andy Warhol, The Scream (After Munch)
Copy of Andy Warhol, The Scream (After Munch).
Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Sparebankstiftelsen DNBNOR

At first glance, the artistic universes of Edvard Munch and Andy Warhol may seem like polar opposites. The former is often regarded as a somewhat gloomy discoverer of our inner depths, while Warhol typically is associated with shiny surfaces, celebrity worship and fascination with consumerism. 

The truth may be more complex, according to Gitte Skilbred, communications director at the Munch Museum. 

“The After Munch series contributes to a more nuanced perception of the two artists. Many are under the impression that Warhol had a superficial approach to the objects he produced and presented, but these paintings show that this understanding of contemporary culture in this period was significant.” 

“Munch, on the other hand, is usually viewed as a tormented and melancholic artist. But through Warhol’s series, the iconic status of motives such as Scream is highlighted – they’ve become part of the popular culture”, Skilbred says to Visit Norway.

Warhol’s favorite artist

Andy Warhol, Eva Mudocci (After Munch)
Andy Warhol, Eva Mudocci (After Munch).
Photo: Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum

The After Munch series consists of 15 paintings based on four different Munch images: The Scream, The Brooch. Eva Mudocci, Madonna and Self-Portrait. 

The exhibition is centered around three of the main works in the After Munch series, as well as unique full-scale prints, unpublished prints and one of Warhol’s original pencil drawings based on Munch’s self-portrait. This offers a glimpse into the creative process leading to the finished series.  

“Andy Warhol is obviously a very famous artist, but not everyone knows about his connection to Norway. Warhol visited Norway as early as 1973, to study Munch’s art at the Munch Museum and the National Gallery. Later, in 1982, he visited a Munch exhibition at the Norwegian-owned Galleri Bellman in New York, which inspired him to create his After Munch series”, says Skilbred, adding: 

“Edvard Munch was, next to Henri Matisse, one of Warhol’s favourite artists”.
 

Deeper and more accessible

This exhibition is part of the series Munch Museum on the move, where the museum’s works are presented in the Bjørvika district of Oslo, where the new Munch Museum will open in 2020. 

In addition to the aforementioned prints, a privately owned version of The Brooch. Eva Mudocci will be shown for the first time in Norway. Also showing is Warhol’s 1963 film Kiss, which shares its title with one of Munch’s most famous works.

– We hope our visitors leave with a different and more nuanced impression of both artists after attending the exhibition. Perhaps they’ll discover a deeper layer to Warhol’s art than he’s sometimes given credit for. At the same time, one might find a greater degree of accessibility in Munch’s art when his motifs are experienced through Warhol’s interpretations, Gitte Skilbred at the Munch Museum says.

Curious about what’s happening in the Norwegian art world this spring? Check out our guides to the museums and exhibitions below:

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