'The Swedish Melancholy' – Linköping, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

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'The Swedish Melancholy'

Look closely, and you'll see this rusty man is crying. 


At first sight, “The Swedish Melancholy,” a sculpture made by the artist Marie-Louise Ekman, just looks like a rusty old sculpture that has been long forgotten. But for anyone paying attention, it’s obvious that the rust is a part of the piece. Take a closer look at the statue, and you’ll notice tears trickling down the cheeks of a man troubled by melancholy.

The iron statue weighs 1,300 pounds (600 kilograms) and is exposed to rain, snow, wind, cold, and heat. It was originally made for the Swedish pavilion at the World Exhibition in Seville in 1992. It then went on display at a regional museum in the city of Linköping, which later purchased the artwork for its permanent collection.

Like some other statues, “The Swedish Melancholy” has also suffered from decapitation. In this particular case, however, the deed was committed by maintenance personnel who were changing the pipes inside its head after the statue had not been crying for a year.

The statue also spurred some controversy when a copy was planned to be installed in Limhamn near Malmö in southern Sweden. The locals there did not want a crying statue in their neighborhood, and one person even suggested that a urinal would have been a better choice. Gösta Ekman, who the statue is modeled after, replied that he could pose for another statue in which he would be urinating. Instead, the proposed statue was moved to Altonaparken in central Malmö.

Update as of July 2021; The museum is currently closed for renovations, but the statue outside is still visible. 

Know Before You Go

The statue is located outside of the regional museum in downtown Linköping, Sweden.

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