OSLO — For the last 28 years of his life, the artist Edvard Munch lived in a villa in a hilly, forested area that was then on the outskirts of this city. He completed hundreds of paintings and drawings there, and the estate, Ekely, has become a pilgrimage site for fans of his art. Although Munch’s villa was demolished in 1960, and an artists’ colony now exists on the site, his enclosed winter studio remains, and visitors can walk among the nearby trees to discover the surroundings that inspired many of his later works.
Recently, however, plans by a Norwegian artist and an architectural firm to build an unusual home on a nearby hillock have set off a heated debate over the preservation of the “Scream” painter’s legacy. The proposed building, officially untitled but generally referred to as “A House to Die In,” is to be the home of Bjarne Melgaard, one of the country’s best known and divisive contemporary artists.
It has raised questions about how far the Norwegian authorities should go to protect the legacy of Munch, one of Norway’s most admired figures, and whether the groundbreaking design of “A House to Die In” is an exciting development in Norway’s culture or a threat to it.
In the coming weeks, the country’s top heritage conservation authority will decide whether to grant a permit for the project.