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Picasso in Oslo

Before Anders Breivik perpetrated his terrorist attack on the island of Utøya in 2011, he set off a bomb near a building in Oslo that housed the offices of the ministries of justice and police. Two of those buildings are likely to be demolished because of the damage to the structure. As Jean-Jacques Larrochelle reports (A Oslo, Picasso au secours d'un bâtiment ministériel, June 26) for Le Monde, an unlikely coincidence may make the government's plan difficult (my translation):
Is a mural inseparable from the place for which it was conceived? The leadership of Norwegian cultural patrimony thinks so. Its director, Jorn Holme, is opposed to the destruction of buildings in Oslo where artworks on concrete were created on the basis of drawings by Pablo Picasso. "If these buildings were destroyed and the murals moved to other sites, the works would no longer be the ones that Picasso intended," the director says.

Created in 1958 by the architect Erling Viksjø (1910-1971), the 14-story building in a modern style, occupies a site in the government complex next to Building Y, built in 1969 and also ornamented with pieces by Picasso. Influenced by the sculptural fiber of Le Corbusier and his use of raw concrete, the Norwegian architect clung to the idea of the overlap of artistic creation and building technique. Erling Viksjø developed a specific technique (naturbetong) that took advantage of the surface characteristics of this material. Viksjø entrusted the creation of large frescos on each of the interior landings of Building H to the artists of his time: Kai Fjell, Tore Haaland, Inger Sitter, Odd Tandberg, and especially Carl Nesjar. It was the last who carefully "etched" the mural of Picasso according to the indications written in notebooks provided by the Spanish artist.
The work shown above -- The Fisherman, from 1970 -- remains in excellent condition, while the other major work, on Building H, was badly damaged in the bombing.

Zeke Turner, Is Oslo the Next Art Capital? (Wall Street Journal, June 28)

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