Munch & Warhol: Book Proves Two Art Icons Had More In Common Than You'd Think

08/20/2013 08:11 am ET

In 1984, the appropriation king, Andy Warhol, took on a modern art subject far removed from his Campbell's Soup cans and Marilyn Monroe visages. That year he opted to reimagine the masterpieces of a certain anxiety-ridden Norwegian painter by the name of Edvard Munch.

Warhol tackled four of Munch's iconic themes -- "The Scream," "Madonna," "Self-Portrait" and "The Brooch.Eva Mudocci" -- adding his signature neon color palette and fluid, screen printed lines to a host of already recognizable images. From the bald, bellowing creature Munch positioned on a fjord in the 1890s to the painter's sensual depiction of what some art historians claim is the Virgin Mary, Warhol twisted and highlighted Munch's symbolic figures until they were his own.

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Warhol: © 2013 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A recently published book, based on a past exhibition at New York's Scandinavia House, puts Warhol's reinterpretations on display, sitting pretty next to the original Munch artworks that inspired them. Titled "Munch/Warhol and the Multiple Image," it brings attention not only to Warhol's era of Munch-ian fascination, but also to the very apparent similarities between the two emotionally charged artists. While Munch is considered to have been a recluse and tortured soul, and Warhol remembered as a serial co-dependent and fame monger, both men proved to have more than a penchant for the repeated image.

“Even though Warhol offered himself up as all surface, and Munch, all impenetrable depth, this exhibition finds many similarities in the ways in which the two artists built their careers by carefully controlling their public personas and artistic production,” remarked Dr. Patricia G. Berman, professor of art history at Wellesley College and the University of Oslo, in an essay for the book. "Far from being an isolate, Munch was very much in control of his career, demanding and winning the right to sequence his works in exhibition and keeping hold of the reins on the selling of his art.”

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Warhol: © 2013 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

It's true that Munch produced four versions of his uber-famous "Scream," and painstakingly oscillated between painting, lithographs and printmaking to reproduce the same image. It's not much different from the art-making processes of Warhol, who screen printed 50 versions of Ms. Monroe alone, for just one diptych. Perhaps Warhol, famous for questioning, "Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?," owes more to Munch than we thought.

Scroll through the images below for a peek at "Munch/Warhol." For more, check out the entire book, available online at Artbook as well as through the Scandinavia House shop.

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Warhol: © 2013 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Munch: © 2013 The Munch Museum / The Munch-Ellingsen Group / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Munch: © 2013 The Munch Museum / The Munch-Ellingsen Group / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Munch: © 2013 The Munch Museum / The Munch-Ellingsen Group / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Installation shot, Scandinavia House.

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Installation shot, Scandinavia House.

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Installation shot, Scandinavia House.

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