Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
June 15, 2008
From journal Oslo's Famous Museums
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
January 28, 2005
Such was Vigeland’s acclaim that the city provided him with a studio in 1902. When that building had to be torn down in 1921, the city council had a studio and residence built for him just south of Frognerparken, in exchange for Vigeland donating his works to be displayed in the building, which was converted to a museum after his death. Relatively few visitors make the pilgrimage here, which is a pity since it provides an excellent background on Vigeland’s life, not to mention displaying the wide array of commissions he executed during his life. It’s surprising that the product of a strict Lutheran upbringing created many blatantly erotic works, and perhaps even more so that he was held in such high regard by bureaucrats as well as critics.
I’d go so far as to say that no visit to Oslo is complete without visiting "Vigeland Park", as the central area of Frognerpark is known. I made a point of going there every evening I spent in Oslo. Its central walkway, best entered through attractive wrought-iron gates on Kirkeveien, rather than approached from the side, is lined with dozens of nude bronze figures depicting humans ranging in age and emotion from screaming babies to peaceful pensioners. Beyond these is an impressive fountain surrounded by an interesting array of bronze caryatids.
The summit of Vigeland’s achievement and indeed the park is a monolith composed of human forms, supposedly the world’s largest granite sculpture. It took him the final 14 years of his life to complete, although he was working on the park’s other statues simultaneously. Surrounded on all sides by other granite sculptures and reached by steps on all four of its sides, it offers a superb vantage point over the park and Oslo. I’d recommend visit at least once just to see it, and then with a camera, as you’re certain to want to take pictures. Looking out over the park, which is popular with people as diverse as its statuary, I recall thinking that Vigeland’s work is as worthy an appreciation of human endeavors as there is, and as stunning in its way as Norway’s famed natural beauty.
An excellent website covers Vigeland’s life, the park, and museum.
The half-hour walk from the city center takes you through some of Oslo’s poshest neighborhoods. Alternatively, take Tram 12 to its terminus opposite the entrance. Get off at Frognerveien to visit the museum.
From journal Oslo's Art and Culture on a Budget
by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
December 15, 2003
Gustav Vigeland lived to be 74-years-old, and what a busy 74 years he must have had. Considering the depth and breadth of the work displayed here at the park, which he also planned, designed, and landscaped, it’s amazing the guy wasn’t suffering from uncontrollable arthritis by the time he passed away. The detail of not only the sculptures, but also the equally impressive wrought iron gates leading up to the world-famous monolith, is just awesome. The expressiveness of the men, women, and children catches you like the flu on a cramped NYC subway train. I actually found it hard to walk away from the park, as the sense of one man’s lifetime accomplishment was a bit overwhelming.
The monolith, which rests in the middle of a circular staircase dotted with rows of sculptures, has long stymied art experts and historians. Does it symbolize man’s desire for salvation? Or is it a commentary on the "dog eat dog" idea, where men and women, young and old, climb over top of each other for personal gain, in this case, to be closest to God? Vigeland purposely made his true message with this sculpture vague to spark debate, and in that sense, it was a rousing success. Keep in mind, as you stare in awe, that the monolith was carved out of one solid block of granite.
There’s a lot of history surrounding the formation of the park, the work of Vigeland, and specifics of the sculptures, so please click here if you’re interested. There you’ll find information on each part of the park, and The Vigeland Museum that I didn’t get a chance to visit. As I walked along the sculpture-lined bridge, past the water fountain, through the iron gates, and up to the monolith, I felt like I was in an open-air museum that would stand forever.
From journal Chocolate and Cheese in Oslo
July 19, 2001
But Gustav had bigger and better dreams in materials much harder and durable than wood!
After his father's death--when Gustav was 19-he began to follow his GOD-given path. He lived and breathed the art form of a sculpter without any formal education as he was taken under the protection of benefactors who saw his vision.
By 1897 he was hired to help with restoration of the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim that lasted until 1902. Many of the pieces he worked on at this time had a hint of mythology with dragons and knights in armour.
As Gustav continued to grow and learn; his art form changed to the busts of important Nowegians such as Henrik Ibsen. This is not surprising, since he would have been in his thirties at this time and needed a solid form of income.
By his fifties his psyche and his work melded into a grand ideal that was a sweet-thing for the city of Oslo and stabalized Gustav's finances allowing the greatest and best work that he was ever to create.
In exchange for a studio and a rent-free place to work--Gustav agreed to develop a park for the people featuring his work in a natural setting. The park is divided into units:
MAIN GATE-Art-Nuevo gates that lead to a bridge lined with bronze figures of men, women, and children in various stages of life and in animated poses.
THE FOUNTAIN--with 20 groups placed under the tree of life showing man from cradle to grave and new life arising from the dust of death. The center fountain shows giant men who support the earth.
THE MONOLITH--carved from one single granite block that shows 121 figures trying to rise to heaven and reach redemption (a common theme of his). This took 3 stone carvers 14 years to complete. Gustav cast each figure in plaster by himself to be used by the carvers as a copy.
WHEELS OF LIFE--men, women, and children holding onto each other in a circle which is the symbol of eternity.
Most of his work concerns the human figure nude. He does this to make you look at yourself in brutal honesty while seeing your fragility. When you first see his work you may think that he had been at Woodstock smoking dope with the hippies during the 1960's. It is hard to realize that he lived 45 years...almost a generation...before that flower-power time.
Gustav never lived long enough to see the park completed, but most of his plans have been finished by the city.
From journal God Morgen Oslo!