2017-01-20 Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the US, in spite of what many people thought was possible. In that context the Norwegian artist Morten Viskum offered Nasjonalmuseet (The Norwegian National Museum) to buy his well known self-portrait Make America Great Again for $ 1!!! But Audun Eckhoff, the director of Nasjonalmuseet didn't respond to the offer. If you are offering something, common courtesy is either to refuse or to accept. Of course Eckhoff can hide behind the fact that he didn't know about the offer, but the offer abounded in social media throughout 2017-01-20, and such a unique offer the director of the Nasjonalmuseet should know about.
Morten Viskum and his self-portraits
In connection with Morten Viskum's major exhibition at the Haugar Museum 2016-10-01 - 2016-12-30, where all of the self-portraits were exhibited as a whole, I have written about several of them earlier here at Samtidskunst.com; Imago Dei and The Clown , (which will be translated into English in short time) where Morten Viskum portrays himself as Jesus and Behring Breivik, (the latter who killed 77 people back in 2011) and I have also written about Make America Great Again where Viskum portrays himself as Donald Trump; now the president of the US. The artwork where Morten Viskum portrays himself as Donald Trump has attracted such international attention that the Chilean art magazine Art Al Limite chose to publish my article about the artwork both on their website and on Facebook where they translated it into Spanish. In 2016 a great monograph about Morten Viskum was published and in this monograph you can also read about the self-portraits.
2017-01-03 we learned that Haugar Museum had bought The Clown, and both Morten Viskum and Haugar Museum received many congratulations, but 2017-01-20, the day Donald Trump was sworn in, Audun Eckhoff and Nasjonalmuseet let the opportunity to buy Make America Great Again for a symbolic price pass, they didn't even have courtesy enough to reply "no thanks".
Audun Eckhoff was the director of the former Bergen Kunstmuseum (Bergen Art Museum) now named Kode, from 2002 – 2009 before he was appointed as the director of Nasjonalmuseet. His contract at Nasjonalmuseet ends 2017-03-25 and in connection with that the position was announced in 2016 by the board at the Museum. The announcement received broad coverage because it was characterized by announcing a position that already was occupied by Audun Eckhoff. How to announce a position where the decision already has taken place? Not easy, and the board was criticized and so was Audun Eckhoff. In the newspaper Aftenposten 2016-06-25 the director at ARoS (Aarhus Art Museum) Erlend Høyersten stated: "The history about the National Gallery stands as a symbol of Audun Eckhoff's leadership. It has been eight years without very much action. He takes no struggles and all criticism is rejected". (Free translated by WH) 1)http://www.aftenposten.no/kultur/Stadig-toffere-kritikk-av-Nasjonalmuseets-leder---Han-tar-ingen-kamper-og-all-kritikk-avvises-580273b.html Høyersten started as the director of Bergen Kunstmuseum after Eckhoff, but in 2014 Høyersten assumed the position as the director of ARoS.
Former director at Nasjonalmuseet Allis Helleland got strong undeserved criticism when she bought works made by the artist Unni Askeland, and due to the purchase and major disagreements within Nasjonalmuseet she left the position of director's. In retrospect, it's probably many people that can be satisfied with this purchase. Worth noting is that she was going to buy a previously self-portrait of Viskum; Son of Abdullah, but when Helleland left, the agreement vanished as well. Now, however, Nasjonalmuseet had the chance to acquire the hitherto most important self-portrait, according to many art lovers, for a symbolic price, an opportunity they let pass.
Was Audun Eckhoff afraid that the same would happen to him as with Helleland when she bought the works of Unni Askeland, if he accepted the generous offer from Morten Viskum? If that's so, he confirms the statement of Erlend Høyersten, but there's no reason for that, Audun Eckhoff and Nasjonalmuseet should rather worry about the criticism that will come as a result of their inability to act 2017-01-20.
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