Edvard Munch Gets the Warhol Treatment


For a fresh perspective on the work of Expressionist artist Edvard Munch, look through Andy Warhol’s eyes, at “Munch/Warhol and the Multiple Image, opening tomorrow at the Scandinavia House. The exhibition presents several versions of four of Munch’s subjectsThe Scream, Madonna, The Brooch, Eva Mudocci, and Self-Portrait—adjacent to one another and alongside Warhol’s vivid Pop interpretations of them.

In the early ’80s, following its Munch exhibition in 1982, the New York-based Galleri Bellman approached Warhol to put his spin on Munch’s images. Warhol selected four Munch motifs with iconic elements—a necessary quality in his ouevre.

Warhol had also appropriated paintings by artists such Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli and Giorgio de Chirico; however, while he distorted most of these, his prints after Munch’s images left tracings intact. “In most of the other commissions, Warhol fragmented the earlier artists’ work,” explains co-curator and Wellesley College art history professor Patricia Berman. “But, with Munch’s works, he honored them by working with the motifs as whole, and reinterpreting them, rather than fragmenting them.”

Exhibited together, the works highlight considerable similarities in the two artists’ lives and art. Both men had distinctive public personas: Warhol was an artist-slash-celebrity New Yorker, and Munch was a depressed, brooding Norwegian. Both were also adept at navigating the art market—Munch made multiples of his prints, distributing them throughout Europe and repetition as a comment on consumerism was at the core of Warhol’s work.

“Munch/Warhol and the Multiple Images
is the only New York event that is part of “Munch 150,” an art-worldwide celebration of Munch’s 150th birthday. Although Warhol’s prints were conceptualized and created in New York, this is their first time being shown in the city.