What will become of Norway’s Picasso murals?

People pass Picasso's mural artwork "The Fisherman" in Oslo. A car bomb ravaged the buildings on which the murals were sandblasted.
People pass Picasso’s mural artwork “The Fisherman” in Oslo. A car bomb ravaged the buildings on which the murals were sandblasted.
(Odd Anderson / AFP / Getty Images)

The Norwegian government is mulling over the fate of five Picasso murals that survived a deadly 2011 car bombing.

The murals — “The Beach,” “The Seagull, “Satyr and Faun” and two versions of “The Fisherman” — were designed by Picasso for two government buildings in Oslo. They were sandblasted into the buildings during the 1950s and 1960s.

In 2011, political fanatic Anders Breivik launched a series of attacks that killed 77, first with a car bomb and then in a mass shooting at a youth summer camp.


The bomb killed eight people and ravaged the Picasso buildings, though the murals survived. Now the government must decide what to do with the damaged buildings.

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Officials said the cost-effective solution would be to relocate the concrete Picassos and demolish the buildings, making way for a new complex.

Art experts argue that the works, which were designed with the architecture in mind, should stay put and the structures repaired, at any cost.

A recent poll shows that about 40% of Norwegians favor demolition, while 34% would like to see the buildings and the pieces preserved.

The government has until early next year to decide the murals’ fate. The Picasso family, which owns the rights to the murals, must also weigh in.



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