Warhol 1968–Exhibition at Moderna Museet, Malmö.

Andy Warhol‘s first international retrospective exhibition was held at Moderna Museet in Stockholm from 10th February to 17th March 1968. The idea for the exhibition came from Pontus Hultén, Moderna’s legendary director, and his friend and former student colleague Billy Klüver a friend of Andy Warhol’s convinced Warhol to participate. Warhol visited Moderna Museet in December 1967 to reconnoiter and agreed to submit works including some Brillo boxes, “Marilyns“, an “Electric Chair” painting, and a 10 foot “Flowers” both made specially for the show. Pontus Hultén sent his young assistant Kasper König to finalise the arrangements together with Warhol and Billy Klüver. The catalogue, authored by Olle Granath, Kasper König and Pontus Hultén, with its “Flowers” cover became a cult item and several editions were produced.
Warhol-1968 Catalogue

First editions came in a cardboard box with “Andy Warhol” printed on it. There was also a limited edition of 100 copies in a perspex box (apparently few of these were sold!) Olle Granath was charged with going through Warhol’s papers to select quotes for inclusion in the catalogue. When he had submitted them for approval, Hultén phoned him and told him he had missed an important quote that “In the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes“. Granath replied that he hadn’t found that particular quote. but it was printed anyway. This caused a certain amount of anxiety as to what Warhol would say when he saw the quote in the catalogue–but Warhol simple shrugged and said that it was the sort of thing he might well have said. And it has since been ascribed to Warhol rather than to Pontus Hultén!

Moderna Museet decided to produce an exhibition in 2018 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the original exhibition. The new exhibition was not intended to reproduce the original show (which would have been impossible) but to emphasis the impact that Warhol’s art had in Sweden (and Europe, as the exhibition later travelled to Oslo and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam) at the time. This type of “exhibition study”, where a new show discusses a previous one, is becoming increasingly common in the museum world.

Interestingly, in 1968, the year of student revolt in Paris and elsewhere, the reaction in the Swedish press was divided with the more left wing papers mostly approving and the more conservative ones damning the show as “non art”!

I went to the opening of the Stockholm show, where  Kasper König was interviewed by Daniel Birnbaum, Moderna’s director, and Olle Granath held the opening speech. Then–as is my wont–I went through the show hoping to find some of Warhol‘s record covers and was rewarded just by the exhibition exit where eight covers were on show:
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As any nerd will note, one of these covers is not by Warhol. So I sought out John Peter Nilsson, the exhibition’s curator, and told him that the cover of the East Village Other‘s album was not by Warhol. I took the opportunity to tell him about my collection of Warhol (and other) covers. He saw to it the East Village Other cover was changed to Johnny Griffin’s “The Congregation“. He told me that Moderna had plans to show the exhibition at its sister museum in Malmö during 2019.

Some time later, John Peter made a home visit to inspect my collection of Warhol record covers and suggested that he include a selection of my Warhol cover collection in the new show in Malmö. We agreed to show all the covers with Warhol‘s art that were produced during his lifetime, but not showing every single variation, in all a total of 81 covers.

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John Peter Nilsson holding his favourite Warhol record cover–“The Nation’s Nightmare” from 1952.

In addition we decided to include some other items from my Warhol collection: the Aspen Magazine #3 from 1966, which includes the flexidisc with Peter Walker‘s “White Wind” and Velvet Underground‘s (in reality only John Cale) “Loop“,  Andy Warhol’s Index (book), Warhol‘s “The Beatles” from the cover of Geoffrey Stokes‘ 1980 book of the same name and magazine covers with portraits of Michael Jackson and Prince and the promotional book from Miguel Bosé‘s “Made in Spain” album.

The Warhol 1968 exhibition in Malmö was due to open on 30th March and run until 8th September 2019. I was invited to help oversee the final hanging of the record covers. These were framed with Wag the Wall‘s beautiful Magic Vinyl Display frames which really let the covers shine.

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One lone viewer in front of the record covers.

The exhibition was designed logically with a large room devoted to the art shown at the 1968 exhibition at Moderna museet in Stockholm with nine Marilyns borrowed from Louisiana, Moderna museets own “Electric Chair“, “Multiple silver Marilyns“, and the ten foot “Flowers“. Also in that room were Warhol‘s print of his plane ticket to Stockholm, December 1967 and a Warhol self portrait (both owned by Moderna). An adjacent room showed the history of Warhol‘s Brillo boxes along one wall, whilst another wall was devoted to Andy Warhol Enterprises and Warhol‘s commercial art including a portrait of “Scandinavian Beauty“. There were three exhibition cases in the middle of the room. One held two of Warhol‘s “Red books” of Polaroid pictures, another magazines with Warhol art covers and a bottle of Warhol‘s 1982 eau de toilette för men with dollar signs on the bottle. The third exhibition case contained more record-related stuff from my collection including Margarita Madrigal‘s book “Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish“, “Andy Warhol’s Index (Book)“, “FAB“, the Aspen Magazine box from December 1966, a booklet from Miguel Bosé‘s “Made in Spain” promotional package and the “Swan Lake” and “Daphnis & Chlöe “LP covers.

My record covers, 80 in all, were lined in five rows on the final wall, with some more in an exhibition case nearby.

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Exhibition case with Andy Warhol’s Index (Book), Aspen Magazine “FAB” issue, the program from the Concert of Mexican Music plus Miguel Bosé’s promo booklet from his “Made in Spain” album.

There was a massive turn out for the opening evening on 29th March with crowds gathering in front of the record covers. One visitor had a large collection of records by the Velvet Underground and by Lou Reed and admitted to owning eleven copies of the Velvet Underground & Nico! Others stood in front of the covers pointing out which ones they actually owned. Many simply admired the early covers from the 1950s and others were simply overwhelmed by the sight of 80 covers on the wall.

Warhol 68-Helene
Posing in front of the wall of record covers. Photo: Helene Toresdotter.

Moderna Museet’s director Iris Müller-Westermann held a welcome introduction followed by John Peter Nilsson who introduced the exhibition and described Warhol‘s art and philosophy after which the multitude could wander round the exhibition before a happening with a Swiss dance troupe took place. Then there was mingle in the cafeteria with shrimp cocktail and wine or beer and a DJ played Warhol-related music. A really warm and friendly meeting with what Iris Müller-Westermann judged to be one of the biggest crowds ever at an exhibition opening  at Moderna museet in Malmö.

The exhibition opened to the public on Saturday March 30th and curator, John Peter Nilsson, hosted two very popular guided tours of the exhibition. There were 1136 visitors to the show on the opening day–quite a turnout as the average number of visitors to openings at Moderna museet in Malmö is about 600. Even the curator’s tours were more popular than at previous shows.

Warhol 68-Guided tour-1
The guided tour Saturday 30th March. John Peter Nilsson beside the 25 Black & White Marilyns facing the crowd.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Warhol 1968–Exhibition at Moderna Museet, Malmö.”

  1. Hi. Funny. I was in Malmö Saturday and noticed you not knowing you were kind of involved. I was also attending the show in Stockholm with König and Granath. I sourced out the Brillo letter that Birnbaum included.
    I am the one writing a new book on the so-called Brillo Box Scandal. A story that is very very different from the official one. And I politely warned MM Stockholm and MM Malmö that the story on their story boards were completely wrong. And of course I documented it. How ever they changed nothing 🙂 I have been at the Pontus Hulten archives frequently in a 2 years span. Get in touch. I am in Helsingør. Best Peter Hvidberg

    1. Hello Peter, Should I write in Swedish or English? You chose English, so I’ll go with that (you wouldn’t approve of my dansk!)
      Did you attend one of John Peter’s exhibition presentations? The idea was that JP would reserve a few minutes at the end of his talk to discuss the record covers. However, JP is not known for using a single word when two or three will say much the same thing, and so his talk went on longer than planned and we never got to talking about Warhol’s love of music or his record cover designs.
      My take on Warhol’s art differs from that of JP and Modena museet. But I am happy that a major part of my personal Warhol collection was included in the Malmö show.
      I know a little bit about the Brillo box scandal, but it says little or nothing about Warhol’s art so I haven’t studied it in detail. I would be interested in reading your book one day, so keep in touch!
      Cheers, Richard

      1. Yes I was present at the 13:00 hours tours. To record what he said on those Brillos. Funny that MM is displaying Warhol Jagger cards. I had a big laugh there. They probably originate from me. TV tried to call them fakes. How ever they were all purchased from David Platzker of MOMA. Recorded in the Castelli files and fully documented. They were never released because they were printed before the large lithos were signed by AW and Jagger. But TV didnt give a shit they just needed some scandal 🙂 They just left behind the Platzker provenance that ruined their story.

      2. The Jagger cards are mine! They definitely didn’t come from you, though. I bought them from a gallery in London who bought them in New York years ago. I read about the supposed forgeries a few years ago, but by then I already had my set of cards.
        According to my gallery friend who sold me the cards, they were the original invitation cards (in an envelope stamped with Andy’s stamp) for Castelli’s 1975 show where the Jagger prints were originally sold. The invitation cards were signed by Warhol and undigned sets were sold at the gallery.
        As an aside: in 1975 I was offered a folio of the Jagger prints (from the edition of 250) for SEK 5000 by a Stockholm gallery. I thought they were ugly and didn’t buy them! I regret that now!

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