Patricia Berman Co-curates Munch-Warhol Show for Scandinavia House, New York

May 7, 2013

Professor Patricia Berman has a busy schedule. She is the Theodora L. and Stanley H. Feldberg Professor of Art at Wellesley and chair of the Art Department, in addition to teaching at the University of Oslo, Norway. She has curated shows everywhere, from Wellesley’s own Davis Museum to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is one of the world’s foremost experts on Scandinavian art and late 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century visual culture.

Her latest project is co-curating a new show at Scandinavia House in New York. Munch | Warhol and the Multiple Image pairs lithographs by Edvard Munch with large-scale screen prints by Andy Warhol. The exhibit is part of the worldwide Munch 150 event which celebrates the artist’s 150th birthday, and was opened in New York by Queen Sonja of Norway on April 27. Several of the works exhibited have not been shown in the United States before.

The two artists are not typically considered together. “You’d think they were on opposite ends of the universe,” said Professor Berman in an interview with New York’s NBC Channel 4. “The existentialist hero of the early 20th century, then Warhol, the American pop icon who’s always claiming to be so superficial while Munch was always claiming to be so anxious.”

Yet both artists considered similar subjects, and Warhol in particular was inspired by Munch’s work. As Professor Berman told Art Daily, “When Warhol was commissioned to appropriate Munch’s motifs, one master of repetition and multiplication took on another. His large-scale prints both parody and honor the Norwegian artist’s work, oscillating between surface and depth, experiment and production line, and disclosure and effacement.”

The exhibit has received widespread media coverage from The Huffington Post (where the exhibit is listed as one of the top arts events in New York) to Interview magazine (describing the exhibit as a “fresh perspective”), and Swedish-American newspaper Nordstjernan, among others.

“Art provides an arena to work out social issues and concerns that may not be negotiated elsewhere, that are unspoken or beyond words,” Professor Berman said in an interview that she and co-curator Pari Stave gave Kunstforum. “Art of various kinds delights, perplexes, challenges, offends, and gives solace. In interacting with works of art, you learn a great deal about your own boundaries of taste, belief, and imagination, and hopefully you are able to transcend them.”

The exhibit runs from April 27 to July 27 at Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (at 38th Street), New York, N.Y. General admission is $5 and $3 for seniors and students with valid ID.

Gabrielle Linnell '13