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Edvard Munch gesehen von Karl Ove Knausgård

Speech given by His Royal Highness The Crown Prince at the opening of the exhibition "Edvard Munch gesehen von Karl Ove Knausgård" in Düsseldorf, Germany, 11 October 2019.

Minister-President Laschet,
Director Gaensheimer,
Dr Kruszynski,
Karl Ove Knausgård,
Friends of the arts,

I am pleased to be here, in Düsseldorf – the cultural metropolis, and in this magnificent museum. The exhibition we are opening today is a clear reflection of the strong friendship between Norway and the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.

There are two Norwegian artists who more than anyone else have taught us to see. Who have given us the courage to see. The courage to view the world, to view ourselves, our human relations and different stages of life through a sharp lense.

A lense that can be brutal, but always compassionate. Compassionate with us as humans, with all our weakness and sorrow, with all our brave attempts and our longing. Compassionate with our struggle to live our lives.

One of them shows us our complex life in this world through the paintbrush.
The other through writing.
In this exhibition, the two of them unite. 

Another aspect that connects Edvard Munch with Karl Ove Knausgård, is their silent demand to have another look, to try to discover the concealed.
This was Knausgård’s spoken intention when he approached Munch as a curator:
He 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 world famous paintings.

Just the same way as Munch through his art works – and Knausgård through his novels – force us to see beyond the surface.

This is an existential human exercise we sometimes need to perform: To have a second look at society, at people, relations and feelings we think we already know. Sometimes we might find something new, something that enriches our lives and make it more truthful.

This is, to me, the essence of art. The essence of literature.
In many ways, Edvard Munch is literary. Maybe this is another reason why Knausgård was so drawn to him: Some of his paintings are like a tableau, a frozen moment in a drama.  Like a visualised short story.

I am very proud to present this unique artistic partnership for this distinguished audience.
Germany was Edvard Munch’s second home. He lived here for more than 15 years, and was quickly embraced by German collectors and art galleries.
Karl Ove Knausgaard has also found a grateful audience of readers here in Germany – and has marked the life of so many with his monumental work “My Struggle”.

As you all know, Norway is this year’s Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse. This exhibition is one of the most important events in the run-up to the book fair.

I hope the exhibition will bring knew knowledge about two Norwegian artists you might already know quite well. In addition, I hope it can be a reminder to all of us to rediscover what we think we already know with new eyes, with an open mind.

It is a great pleasure for me to declare the exhibition ‘Edvard Munch gesehen von Karl Ove Knausgård’ open.

Thank you.


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