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Babel's tower remains three years longer

Published: 10 January 2020

The painting Babel's tower, which has been at Luleå University of Technology since 1983, will be taken down as the university leaves the building where the painting hangs. The political brigade painting, which is one of Sweden's largest works of art, measures 18.5 meters and was painted by the artist group Hofbrigaden.

– This was by far the most fun job I did in my life, Julie Leonardsson, says, to Luleå University of Technology.

Political satire

He himself helped to mount the board at Luleå University of Technology, when it went and remembers everything very well. For those who are curious to look at the board in the F-house, it may be good to know that there is a switch to the right of the board. Push it in, and the board will get its proper illumination. The painting was done by the artist group Hof Brigaden, which stood for community-based art or political satire. Apart from Julie Leonardsson, the group also consisted of Cilla Ericson, Ingrid Olson, Stefan Teleman and Ulf Rahmberg.

The emperor's New Clothes

This great painting, the Tower of Babel, which takes its time to look at, was really another painting from the beginning. It is an overpainted painting originally called "The Emperor's New Clothes" which was to be erected in two weeks for Liljevalchs with financial support from the State Culture Council. The overpainted painting has a story worth telling. The compensation that the artists received for work and materials was not enough to finish the painting.  As a protest, in order to shed light on the financial conditions of the artists, the artists wrote "here we ran out of money" at the top of the painting, and they went home. The painting included criticism of the royal house and the weekly press, and showed a satirical image of the royal couple, which gave rise to the name Hofbrigaden, on the artist group.

The only thing left of the original board, the 18.5 meter long boiler, is the King's crown at the top. When the new painting was made, the artists got more time and were able to create a completely different work and composition. The court brigades became friends for life and kept in regular contact. Most of the artists are over eighty today.

– This painting became an exclamation mark for this type of satirical art, which today has no real market anymore, Julie Leonardsson, says, today 76 years.

Since 1983, Babel's tower has been at Luleå University of Technology.

Luleå University of Technology has been allowed to publish the pictures from the painting of Hofbrigaderna.