by Venice Kichura,
Oslo, Norway’s Sculpture Park displays the genius of Gustave Vigeland, a Norweigan artist who designed hundreds of full-life nude statues. One of the highlights of a visit to Oslo, Norway is visiting the city’s noted Sculpture Park. The Sculpture Park is made up of 192 sculptures, all designed by famous Norwegian sculpture artist, Gustave Vigeland, as well as 600 full-sized figures. Besides designing the sculptures, Vigeland also designed the ground layouts and architectural setting. The unusual aspect of Vigeland’s sculptures is that they are all nude.
This sculpture park is the largest of its kind worldwide. The sculptures, made of bronze, granite and wrought iron, are known for their exceptionally smooth texture. Although Vigeland designed all the sculptures, numerous stone carvers did the actual carving of the statues.
Vigeland used clay as his chosen material. Because he was able to work soft clay quickly, it proved an ideal medium for the artist’s enormous creativity and energy. Using small, three-dimensional sketches, Vigeland modeled his sculptures, although sometimes he used a grid as a guide.
Vigeland’s The Fountain and The Wheel of Life”
The park begins at the sculpture known as “The Fountain”, which is a circle of trees and people within and among them. Six giants hold up a large vessel from which spills a curtain of water. Men, represented from various stages of life, signify the toil of the burden of life. Just as in many of his pieces, Vigeland uses a mixture of people and trees.
Vigeland designed “The Wheel of Life” in the early 1930s. This part of the park consists of a circle of children at a bridge lying next to a lake. It consists of figures that swirl into an eternal circle.
The Monolith is the high point of the sculpture park. This colossal piece work stands 15 feet high and is carved from a single stone block which contains 121 figures. Three stone carvers worked from 1929 to 1943 to finish it, just before Vigeland’s death.
What appears to be a collection of inert bodies lies at the bottom, with figures above them ascending into a spiral movement, which stops midway. Then it rises quickly, covered by small children. There are several interpretations of the Monolith, such as man’s struggle for existence. The theme of the human resurrection and man’s yearning for spiritual spheres are other possible meanings.
About Gustave Vigeland
Gustave Vigeland was born in 1869 on the southern coast of Norway in Mandal. The first signs of his exceptional artistic abilities were seen in his woodcarvings and drawings done at age 15. That’s when his father took him to Oslo so his son could work as an apprentice to a master.
When his father died, two years later, Vigeland went back to Mandal, giving up hopes of becoming a sculpture artist. He returned to Olso in 1888 with sketches of statues from the Bible and Greek mythology. His incredible skills caught the attention of sculpture Brynjulk Berglien, who trained him, as well as gave him his studio.
His first piece was “The Fountain”. The city of Olso decided the entire project should be done in the Frogner Park, which was later named “Vigeland Park.” Vigeland continued modeling new sculptures for Vigeland Park until he died in 1943.
Although Vigeland sculptures are all nude, they’re not pornographic. Their depictions of the stages of life are intended to show how life goes on throughout generations. Vigeland decided to make his statues nude because he felt doing so depicted the eternalness of life.