Swastikas and other controversial imagery appear repeatedly in Bengtsson’s work. Two of his paintings, Edvard Hopper: Early Sunday Morning and Hat & Cap Factory, are hanging in the museum.
“We received a request, an appeal, from the EU secretariat if we could remove the works. We took the plea seriously and took the paintings down, also out of respect for Dick Bengtsson,” Ann-Sofi Noring, chief curator at Moderna Museet, told Swedish Television (SvT).
Mårten Grunditz, head of the secretariat for the EU meeting in Sweden, told SVT that they lacked the pedagogical resources to explain the paintings.
“(The swastika) is an extremely loaded symbol in many countries,” he said.
Bengtsson was born in 1936 and grew up in a Sweden struggling with maintaining neutrality during the Holocaust and the Second World War. According to art historians, Bengtsson was not a Nazi, but instead chose to portray controversial symbols such as the swastika in his work in order to force the viewer to take a stand.