DESIGN BY NORWAY: Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway breezed into Scandinavia House Thursday to meet with the winning printmakers and founders of the award named in her honor. An artist in her own right, she spoke enthusiastically about the importance of art and design — at times standing near the numerous prints that she herself had created, including one called “Gala” and another entitled “Lightening.”

Andy Warhol painted Her Majesty in his heyday and she has amassed what is said to be an impressive art collection since that time. Standing with Svend-Allan Sorensen near his Henry David Thoreau-inspired work, she said she suggested he add ducks to the piece. The three thought-provoking frames carried the message, “The Bird is Gone and There is no Trace Beyond.”

The queen spoke with WWD about what New York-based designers might glean from Norway’s design brigade. “We are very aware of the whole attitude of design and design is very important. The Scandinavian look is very important — clear-cut, fresh colors, brave. There is something quite clear about Scandinavian art, as also in Finland’s glass, Norway the same, all the Scandinavian countries are obsessed with design really.”

As for what role art, fashion and design can alleviate people’s concerns in these internationally tumultuous times, Queen Sonja said, “Art does that – theater too and music, the visual arts, all of them, give people something extra, something you want to enjoy. When you want to get away from daily life, you sort of hunger for art and want to dissolve yourself into art.”

“I think whether it is the written word, the spoken word or just using your eyes — all of that means a great deal to people. We see that in difficult times, people really go to all different kinds of art.” she added.

To that end, next year’s “Prize Prints: The Queen Sonja Print Award” exhibition may travel to London and Italy. This year’s edition is now on view in New York at Scandinavia House.

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