Artists Museums News Norway

Proposal to sell photograph by Munch in Oslo museum to Pompidou proves controversial

Politicians to decide whether to deaccession self-portrait bequeathed to the city

Munch's Self-Portrait with the Winter Studio at Ekely in the Background, 1930

A proposal to sell a vintage print of a photograph by Edvard Munch to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, has been met with criticism in Oslo.

The print is in the collection of the Munch Museum, Oslo. One of an edition of five, it shows Munch in profile photographed in his garden at Ekely, around 1930.

At the end of November, the government of Oslo put before the city’s parliament the proposed deaccession of the photograph, part of the collection that the artist bequeathed to the city. In the proposal document it says: “The sale to a public international institution will ensure that Munch’s work is made accessible for the public and by that secures the [artist’s] will.”

But Ivar Johansen, a member of the city parliament for the left-wing party SV, says that in Munch’s will, the artist said he wanted his works to be kept together. Any sale runs counter to Munch’s wishes, Johansen says. A long-term loan would be a better solution in order to increase access Munch’s works, he says, fearing that if the sale goes ahead other will follow.

The city government is asking parliament to vote on whether to sell further photographs by Munch, “when such cases are coming up and are justified from a professional point of view”, says the report to politicians. A decision is due to be made in 2013.

Centre Pompidou is willing to pay up to €30,000 for the work. The money would go towards supporting the celebrations of the artist’s 150th birthday in 2013.

Meanwhile, Oslo has still not decided whether to relocate the Munch Museum. A decision was expected at the beginning of December. But the populist right-wing liberal party FrP, which had supported the proposal, which is backed by the governing conservative-liberal coalition, had a change of heart.

The plans for new Munch Museum have been postponed several times already. Originally, the city parliament had agreed on the so-called Lambda building to be erected next to the Opera. The FrP party now wants the new Munch Museum to be located where the National Gallery is now. The latter is due move to a new home in 2017.

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28 Dec 12
21:27 CET


It would be regrettable if the terms of an artist's bequest are again flouted. Donor Watch.

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