Hellooooooooo 2022! It’s been a while since I last posted! I am going to start off the New Year in the Vigeland Sculpture Garden in Oslo, Norway! I loved everything about Norway, from the small fishing villages and outposts (and all the goats) to the big city, in comparison, of Oslo! I would definitely go back again and again! If I owned heavy winter clothes I would visit in the Winter……….but I am used to temperatures in the high 70’s, so I don’t think I’ll splurge on winter outfits at this stage of my life! Ok, back to this fabulous park in Norway! We walked through the well-to-do neighborhoods from the hotel, to reach the park……..It was not tooooooo far and the neighborhoods were lovely! You get to know a city when you observe the neighborhoods, don’t you think? I loved the neighborhood coffee shops and bakeries the best…….. which makes for a very enjoyable walk, but we walked on ……and finally we came to the Main Gate. We knew we were at the right place from the buses lined up to drop off folks and all the school groups! Even the entrance looks just magical! Let’s go in!
We’ll start with the entry map! This is a big place, over 80 acres!
Vigeland Park is partially combined with the older Frogner Park. It functions as a sculpture park and a public park, open to visitors day and night the whole year round! Well, that says a lot about the city of Oslo right there! You can see from this next photo how the formation of the park took place over many years! So, who is Gustav Vigeland? Born in 1869 in the small town of Mandal, Norway, his father was a master carpenter in a furniture workshop. Raised in the devout Protestant Pietistic movement, he spent his childhood in a strictly religious atmosphere. His first artistic talents were found in his drawings and woodcarving skills. At fifteen, his father took him to Oslo to apprentice him to a master. His father died two years later and Vigeland had to return home to support the family. By 1888, he was back in Oslo looking for work. Impossible to work as a woodcarver, he showed his drawings to the sculptor, Brynjulf Bergslien, who decided to give Vigeland his first formal training. By 1889, Vigeland was able to exhibit his first sculpture at the State Exhibition of the Arts. For a short time, he attended the School of Design. His talent was recognized immediately and he received several grants which allowed him to travel and work on his own sculptures. Living in Paris for six months, he studied Auguste Rodin’s work, where the impact of this study can be seen in later works by Vigeland. Rodin’s treatment of the relationship between man and woman was very influential with Vigeland’s lifelong development of this theme, as we shall see. Taking up commissions on restoration work on his return to Norway, Vigeland worked on the Trondheim Cathedral until 1902. In addition to the sculptures for the choir and gargoyles for the towers, he took up the motif of Man in Combat with dragons and lizards, which according to Christian traditions are symbols of evil and hostile powers…………This theme also appears in his later sculptures.
In 1921, the Municipality of Oslo, provided Vigeland with a new and spacious studio. In return, Vigeland gave all his works of art in his possession and all the original models of future sculptures to them! Vigeland worked in his new palatal building from 1924 until his death in 1943. In 1947, the Vigeland Museum ( which consisted of Vigeland’s studio and mausoleum was opened to the public) The Vigeland Park developed over 40 years and features 214 sculptures and more than 758 figures, all full size! All the sculptures were made without the assistance of pupils or other artists! He also designed the grounds with the expansive lawns and gardens……. Let’s go in and see!
Here is the beginning of the garden areas.
Near the gardens and at the entrance to the bridge, we see one the first sculptures, of the Man versus Evil Theme. These are some of his works in granite! Each of the four corners of the bridge is flanked with a granite group, each set with a tall column of the same material. Three of these depict a man struggling with a giant lizard, while the fourth shows a woman. Vigeland designed these pieces as he was thinking about his fountain project. The sculptures at the bridge portray people of widely differing ages. Most show relationships between man and woman and between adults and children.
The parapets of the bridge include 58 figures and groups in bronze. They were designed from 1926-1933.
Here is a view looking down the bridge……….which is 49 ft wide and 328 feet long.
And looking back at the garden atmosphere and Frogner River……….
At the point, where the bridge widens, is a circular sculpture. It is a man and woman linked together in a rotating movement, the circle being a well known symbol of eternity.
An unusual theme is the father and child relationship, which is the subject of many of the sculptures.
Well, we have made our way to the fountain area, which as you can see, some parts are under a tarp getting a bit of a clean……….
I want to tell you more about the fountain, so I’ll save that for my nest post!
I hope you have enjoyed the brief introduction to the Vigeland Sculpture Park………..more in the coming days! I have written many posts of my travels in Norway and I hope you look some of them up to see how enchanting and varied Norway is and the appeal of such a beautiful country! Cady