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Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Speech

3 octobre 2013
"Andy Warhol"

Opening remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
“Andy Warhol”

Palais des Nations, Mezzanine, E Building, 2nd floor
Thursday, 3 October 2013 at 6 p.m.



Ambassador Rosocha
Ambassador King
Mr. Jancar
Dear Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the opening of a very special exhibition. It is the first time that the artwork of Andy Warhol is displayed at the Palais des Nations and we are delighted to showcase such a renowned artist for the international community in Geneva. I would like to thank Ambassador Rosocha, Ambassador King and the Permanent Missions of the Slovak Republic and the United States of America for making this event possible and for bringing us Warhol’s story of immigration and the influence of dual cultures on his work. My sincere appreciation also to Mr. Jancar of the Bratislava City Gallery for bringing these prints to the United Nations.

More than twenty years after his death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. He infiltrated the worlds of art, fashion, music, media, and celebrity and became a major player in all. Through his commissioned portraits of politicians, entertainers, sports figures, writers, debutantes and heads of state, he chronicled history through a unique lens. A true innovator, he saw people and everyday objects from a different perspective, and his success came after considerable risk.

Adding to all of this, Andy Warhol was also a supporter of the United Nations. In 1979 he designed a stamp to raise funds for disaster relief for what was then called the United Nations Disaster Relief Organization, based in Geneva. Now the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this Office continues to provide life-saving assistance following natural disasters and other emergencies.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
I think that we can all learn from the life of Warhol.
These lessons in risk and innovation are some that can and should be used by the international community. Because it is only by seeing things in a new light, working through new perspectives and taking risk – that we are able to meet the global challenges of today.

I hope that by showcasing Andy Warhol’s iconic artwork here at the Palais des Nations, it will continue to inspire – not just diplomats and delegates, but also the future thinkers, artists and leaders who pass through these halls.

Thank you very much.