The Other Munch
Ladies and gentlemen,
In May last year, my wife and I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Munch exhibition To the Forest at the Munch Museum in Oslo.
Knausgaard had taken a fresh look at the world famous artist, and selected less known works for the exhibition. He clearly wanted us to see Munch with new eyes, without the layers of assumption, prejudice and habit that can get in the way when we view his work. I thought this was a very brave task – and one Knausgaard mastered beautifully.
For me, the exhibition was all about seeing, discovering, about creating and living as an artist through different stages of life. Stages that vary in intensity – some about the end of life, about death – since most of the works were from the later parts of Munch’s life.
For most of us, it can be extremely difficult, but necessary, now and then to review the places, people and things we think we know – to take a fresh look. To challenge ourselves to look beyond what we think we see. To approach something or someone with a completely open mind, asking new questions, as if we saw it for the first time.
It could be said that this is the essence of the film that will be screened here this evening. In this documentary, the Norwegian art professor Stian Grøgaard makes an interesting comment about some of Munch’s better known paintings:
"His themes are literary. His pictures are like snapshots from a dramatic story. They have frozen a particular moment. You feel they are part of a greater story."
I think this is a beautiful way to link Edvard Munch’s paintings to literature – and to Karl Ove Knausgaard, one of Norway’s greatest contemporary writers.
The Trier brothers, Joachim and Emil, have made a moving documentary of the process leading up the exhibition. In a unique way, some of Scandinavia’s outstanding artists – from different times and different disciplines – have come together in The Other Munch: a painter, an author and two filmmakers – exploring the process of creating.
I wish you all a very pleasant evening here at the Lincoln Center. I hope the film will be a reminder to all of us to rediscover what we think we already know with new eyes, with an open mind.