ASF Gold Medal: Acceptance speech
ladies and gentlemen,
it is a great pleasure to be here at the Pierre with you tonight and to receive this recognition from the American-Scandinavian Foundation.
The arts enrich our lives and expand our vision. Artistic expression is one of the greatest human gifts, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet, learn from, and encourage artists and musicians of all ages. For me, art represents a pause from our strictly-organised lives, where we can surrender ourselves to the unexpected, to the inexplicable.
Art also connects, and the cultural ties between the United States and Scandinavia are special. I have fond memories from the exhibition Scandinavia today in 1982. Royals and presidents from the Nordic countries travelled to Washington, Minneapolis and New York City with an extensive presentation of Nordic art.
Another tie was made in 1993, when I had the privilege of taking part in organizing an art exhibition in connection with the Olympic Games in Lillehammer. We started out in Atlanta with the exhibition Winterland. One day, we were told to receive and to treat well a certain director from New York. I think we did a good job, because two years later - in 1995, the exhibition Solberg-Munch emerged at the National Academy of Design. As you might have guessed; this certain director was Ed Gallagher, President of the American-Scandinavian Foundation since 1996. Mr. Gallagher’s enthusiastic interest in Scandinavian art and culture is of great importance. Thank you so much, Ed!
So – art connects, stories are created and roads are crossed. And new paths open up:
For many years, I had a dream about establishing an art award. This became a reality in 2011, and today the Queen Sonja Print Award is actually the largest graphic art award in the world. Some have even called it “the Nobel prize of graphic arts”- perhaps a mild exaggeration. The brand new exhibition which opened yesterday at the Scandinavia House, features recent works by the 2012 and 2014 prize winners, Finnish Tiina Kivinen and Svend-Allan Sørensen from Denmark. In addition, it includes work by the founders; my friends Ørnulf Opdahl and the late Kjell Nupen, as well as myself. May I recommend a visit?
Finally, I applaud the good work of the American-Scandinavian Foundation in their efforts to increase international understanding for the Nordic countries. Their many programs of artist- and cultural exchange, and the presentations offered at Scandinavia House, strengthen our cultural ties. We hope these ties will be further developed in the future.
I feel honored to receive the price, again, thank you.