Government artwork destined for storage

An increasing amount of the art bought for Sweden's public buildings and offices is ending up in storage, according to a study by the Swedish Agency for Public Management.

Currently, over 2,800 works of art which have been bought with taxpayers’ money are packed away. That is an increase of 30% since 1999.

It is the responsibility of the National Public Art Council both to acquire and commission paintings and sculptures for display in government premises.

Every year the organisation spends around 12 million kronor on art, yet the public management agency says that the demand for such works is falling since there are not as many suitable environments to display the art as there have been in the past.

But it is also a question of taste.

“Those who would have the art perhaps have a little more traditional view of art, while maybe it is important for the art-buyers to generate a debate about art,” said Petter Persson, departmental director at the Agency for Public Management, to Swedish Radio.

The National Public Art Council’s explanation for the growth in stored paintings was that there are simply fewer government walls to hang them on, as departments are shut down, moved to different parts of Sweden, or combined.

But the council’s information director, Susanne Eriksson, acknowledged that the people who had to look at the artwork every day were sometimes less enthusiastic about it than the purchasers.

“Art isn’t neutral,” she told Swedish Radio.

“Art has its own expression and everyone has a viewpoint of that expression.”

Sources: SR