In Stockholm, The Hotel Diplomat Is An Ambassador For Swedish Art

John Oseid, Forbes, April 18, 2022
Before we even get to the admirable Art Nouveau elements and the serious art collection, let's head straight up. Fans of swell old-timey birdcage elevators will be riding to heaven as they ascend the six-story Hotel Diplomat on Stockholm's Strandvägen bayfront boulevard in the Östermalm district.

Just inside the small foyer, that lovely antique steel elevator with its leafy design motif serves as a fine introduction to the rich history behind this 1907 building. The Diplomat shares a courtyard with a twin wing, which collectively under the address of Strandvägen 7 made for an enormous residence in its time, one that was quick to become a posh anchor on the Nybroviken waterfront for Stockholm's growing bourgeois class.

Once you've enjoyed that old elevator ride, you'll quickly discover that each of the Diplomat's six floors is very much an art gallery unto itself in which curator Lovisa Malmström affords guests the chance to discover leading (mostly) Swedish contemporary artists with whom they likely weren't familiar.

In Malmö native Maria Friberg's first-floor work Embedded (2006, video still, c-print, silicone, glass), dark-clad figures lie on and are partly wrapped in stark white sheets. Per the exhibition catalogue, "The men in the "embedded" images move slowly, like icebergs floating on the horizon. They are half awake, half asleep." At once peaceful, the images are eerie in their artificialness.


Helene Schmitz's fifth-floor photographic series Blow Up (2003, c-print) depicts flower buds at different stages of life, both fresh and withered, and all shot-as the title suggests-in intense closeup and under bright studio light. The wispy feather seedheads in the image Clematis Tangutica belong to a vine with intensely yellow, bell-shaped flowers and were shot by Schmitz in almost microscopic-like detail.

Take the late painter and sculptor Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd who in the early-50s worked under Léger: In the hotel lounge, his Non Violence - 1985-from a prominent series of which large bronze castings are found around the world-is nothing more than a small revolver. But with the barrel tied in a knot, it's a thing of chilling beauty. Reuterswärd's quirky fourth-floor portraits are an homage to figures of the likes of Sartre and Francis Bacon.