While on our cruise we decided to take an organised trip in Oslo as the ship was only in port for half a day. The excursion we chose took us on a drive round the town and then onto the Vigeland Sculpture Park. I had never heard of this park previously so I was interested to see what was there.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the sole work of one artist and as such is the largest park dedicated to one artist in the world. There are over 200 sculptures made in granite, bronze and wrought iron and it took almost 40 years to bring the park to fruition. Gustav Vigeland was born in 1869 and died in 1943. Our guide was highly enthused by the works we were to see and her enthusiasm was not misplaced.
Much of Vigeland's work was concerned with the relationship between man and woman. He described melancholy, devotion, ecstatic rapture and deep pain, occasionally happiness, but rarely joy.
We entered via the Main Gate, passed the statue of Gustav Vigeland and began our walk along the 850 metre axis through the park.
Our first experience of the sculptures was at the Bridge. The sculptures here are of bronze predominantly and are single or groups of figures of people of all ages.
This figure of an 'Angry Boy' is one f the most popular in the park and came from a small sketch Vigeland had made of a little boy having a tantrum. You can see where people like to rub the figure's hand.
From the strength in this face you can almost hear the child's screams.
Vigeland chose to sculpt his figures without the encumbrance of clothing to keep the focus on the emotions and impressions he wanted to convey.
The next main group of sculptures is set around the fountain and depicts the journey of man from the cradle to the grave.
After the fountain we proceeded to the Monolith and Monolith Plateau. While some of the sculptures at the Fountain had an air of foreboding I found the granite sculptures at the Monolith more uplifting, even though some of the themes were obviously about difficult moments in life's journey.
When the monolith had been carved Vigeland was not happy with the top section and insisted it was redone hence it tapers off.
I found this group particularly believeable and moving. When you consider this is granite we are talking about the carving is so delicate and you can feel the muscles and bones in the spine. In fact the granite is discoloured by people doing just that.
In contrast to the images of old age is the exuberance of children playing on their mother's back.
What is this mother saying to her son above?
I found these figures so moving and lifelike. You can feel the age in these 2 women, in the quality of their skin and the effect of the passing years on their bodies.
I could have spent all day exploring all these amazing sculptures.
The other striking feature of the park were the wrought iron works and gates.
We only had about 40 minutes to walk through the park with the guide which really was no time at all so it would be wonderful to go back one day and have a closer look. You can see the influences of Matisse and also the cubists in Vigeland's work. His statues caused uproar when first unveiled and he is considered to have been ahead of his time but he is now renowned and the jewel in Norway's crown. You will find a very informative site if you follow the links in this post and then explore the Vigeland Park website.