One of the artistic highlights of Norway is the Sculpture Park in Oslo. The park contains 192 sculptures with more than 600 figures, all modeled in full size by Gustav Vigeland without the assistance of pupils or other artists. Vigeland also designed the architectural setting and the layout of the grounds.
Perhaps the most famous of Vigeland’s creations
The initial point of the park sculptures was the Fountain. A model was presented in 1907 to the city counsel and Gustav Vigeland was commissioned to make a Fountain. But as the time passed and not enough money was raised yet, Vigeland added many more sculptures to the project – granite sculptures that eventually were placed around the later Monolith. In 1924, the City of Oslo decided that the whole project should be fulfilled in the Frogner Park, later called Vigeland Park. In 1931 followed a renewal of the bridge over the Frogner ponds with the addition of numerous sculptures on the parapets and grounds. For the rest of his life, Vigeland continued to model new sculptures for the park until his death in 1943.
Gustav Vigeland was born in 1869 in the south-coast town of Mandal in Norway. Vigeland’s artistic talents were first revealed in his drawings and woodcarvings and at the age of fifteen, his father took him to Oslo to apprentice him to a master. The death of his father only two years later forced Vigeland to return to Mandal and relinquish all hopes of becoming a sculptor. In 1888, Vigeland was again back in the capital, this time taking with him a bundle of sketches for statues, groups and reliefs, their motifs mostly deriving from Greek mythology and the Bible. The sculptor, Brynjulf Bergslien, impressed by his drawings, took him into his studio and gave him his first practical training.
The work of Auguste Rodin, seen by Vigeland on visits to the artist’s studio in Paris, made a perceptible impact. Rodin’s intimate treatment of his relationship between man and woman was also influential in Vigeland’s life-long development of this theme.
“I was a sculptor before I was born. I was driven and lashed onward by powerful forces outside myself. There was no other path, and no matter how hard I might have tried to find one, I would have been forced back again.”