Norway’s government is facing protests as it tears down a landmark building decorated with giant murals by Pablo Picasso.
The move comes as part of an effort to reconstruct government headquarters that had suffered damage in the 2011 terrorist attack by Anders Breivik.
The government has claimed that the office building – known as the “Y building” – will be replaced with a modernised, safer alternative.
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Picasso’s work can be seen on the exterior and interior of the building, including The Fishermen, which was sandblasted onto a 250-tonne facade. Another sand-blasted mural by the famed Spanish artist can be seen inside the building: The Seagull, a floor-to-ceiling artwork which adorns a wall in the Y building’s lobby.
The government has confirmed that both artworks will be relocated to another building, but protesters have argued that the murals belong with the building, as originally intended.
In 2011, right-wing extremist Breivik exploded a van carrying 950kg of explosives at the base of the Norwegian prime minister’s offices, before carrying out a mass shooting on the island of Utøya, claiming the lives of 77 people.
The Y building suffered little structural damage as a result of the blast, but its location has been described by government officials as vulnerable to attack.
Singer-songwriter Elvira Nikolaisen, who is part of the campaign to protest the building’s removal, told Reuters: “There is a grieving process that this is happening. At the same time, the spirit that many displayed to campaign to protect the building has been very positive. People have woken up to the value of this art.”
Picasso originally collaborated with Norwegian sculptor Carl Nesjar to create the artworks, who converted the artist’s designs into concrete murals displayed in Oslo, as well as New York, Barcelona, and elsewhere.