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Munch paintings: replacements offered

There's no news on the whereabouts of the two paintings stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo recently, but their disappearance has prompted a good deal of navel-gazing in the Swedish press.

Dagens Nyheter’s Niklas Ekdal used Munch’s bleak subject matter as an entrance point for a long discussion on unhappy Nordic folk – pointing out that while the Nordic countries routinely come out at the top of quality-of-life surveys, the happiest countries tend to be warm places like Venezuela, Mexico, and Nigeria.

Ekdal mused that “the consumer society has given us an unhealthy obsession with ourselves” and pointed out that “careers, shopping, and plastic surgery have their limitations.”

In the same paper, Mats Holmberg took the opportunity to look back on the history of big art capers and concluded that “art robberies will happen again and again, as long as people want to look at original art”.

These opportunities for self-reflection might come to an end, sadly, as collectors are already coming forth with replacements for the two paintings that were stolen. Verdens Gang reported this week that Nelson Blitz, a New York businessman, has offered to lend his “Madonna” to the Munch Museum if they need it.

A number of versions of “The Scream” are floating around and the Munch Museum should be able to get something on the walls in no time.

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Stockholm’s giant penis mural to be covered up after complaints

A giant blue penis painted on a Stockholm apartment building is to be covered up after just one week, the company which owns the building has said.

Stockholm's giant penis mural to be covered up after complaints
The penis was painted in blue with a yellow background, perhaps reflecting Sweden's national colours. Photo: Photo: Hugo Röjgård/Graffitifrämjandet
Atrium Ljungberg said it had come to the decision after receiving a barrage of complaints about the five-story high depiction of a bulging erection.  
 
“Of course we care about artistic freedom, but at the same time we must respect the opinion of our closest neighbours,” Camilla Klint, the company's marketing head, said in a statement. 
 
“By letting it remain for a short period, we are offering anyone who's interested a chance to experience the work.” 
 
The company said that it had been given no prior warning that a giant penis was about to appear on one of its blocks. 
 
“On Wednesday morning, April 11th, we saw  Kollektivet Livet's new work for the first time, at exactly the same moment as all the other people who live on Kungsholmen did,” it said in its statement.  
 
Under their arrangement, the artist collective had total artistic freedom over the works it commissioned for the wall, at Kronobergsgatan 35 on the central Stockholm island of Kungsholmen.  
 
The decision will come as a disappointment to the artist Carolina Falkholt. Her first giant penis painting, which she plastered on a wall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in December, lasted only a few days. 
 
She said on Wednesday that she expected her native Swedes to be more receptive. 
 
Atrium Ljungberg did acknowledge that many appreciated the painting. 
 
“Some people are positive about the work and see it as playing an important part in the debate around sexuality, the body and gender,” the company wrote.
 
“Others, particularly neighbours, have received the work less well, and experience it as offensive.”
 
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