Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
Expectation I
Expectation II
Artistic voice: Edvard Munch, 1906/1927, Weimar/Rome
Oil on canvas, each 120.5 x 140.5 cm

»Friedrich Nietzsche had undertaken an ambitious project: he wanted to find his ideal scientific student at long last, and perhaps even meet the woman of his dreams. With these lofty goals in sight, he approached Lou von Salomé, certain in his belief that they were meant to be together. The equally prosaic and highly intelligent Russian noblewoman was not easy to impress, however. Within a short time, this longed-for encounter had become a poisoned chalice that brought Nietzsche to the brink of suicide. The paintings in Munch’s artistic voice portray the very depths of human despair and illustrate how fierce jealousy and possessiveness were once regarded as part and parcel of romantic endeavours. The title advises against settings one’s own expectations too high – timeless advice that is extremely topical in a world of excessive self-reflection.«

Professor Ulrich Sieg, Philipps University of Marburg

Nietzsche met Lou von Salomé in 1882 in St. Peter’s Basilica. Aside from her connections to Nietzsche, Rilke and Freud, von Salomé was a successful writer and independent thinker in her own right. In the great aesthetic quest for meaning of the turn of the century, she developed a new way of living. “Expectation” is a multi-faceted term: personally, politically and historically. Munch stayed in Rome in 1927, and had produced a portrait of Nietzsche based on a photograph as early as 1906. His approach of frequently varying series of motifs is picked up by Beltracchi and underlines the ambiguity held within the concept of expectation at the turn of the century. A great many people experienced disappointment. The Pietà in the background alludes to gender relations and highlights the permanence of art.