Thursday, 8 July 2010

Vigeland Park

At last I have started sketching again, it's about time I did something new. My computer is off to be repaired, so until I have more to show and get my computer back I thought I would show some photographs of my favorite park. It's just down the road from my Mum and Dad's in Oslo. It's a place I often visit and always take hundreds of photographs, with the thought that one day I may use them for or within my own art. 
  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. 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.

Forged of granite and wrought iron, the Main Gate serves as an entrance to the park itself. It consists of five large gates, two small pedestrian gates and two copper-roofed gate houses, both adorned with weather-vanes. 

The Bridge

There are 58 bronze sculptures on granite parapets (1926-1933) stand on either side of the Bridge portraying people of widely differing ages, although there is less emphasis on old age than others in the park. Many characteristic representations of children are noticeable. Dominant motifs among the groups are the relationships between man and woman and between adults and children. In one sculpture you find a bronze wheel enclosing a man and woman linked together in a rotating movement. The circle being a well-known symbol of eternity, the sculpture may indicate the constant attraction and love between the sexes or a figurative version of the Eastern symbol of "Yin and Yang."

The Fountain

The Fountain is the earliest sculpture unit in the park. In the center of the basin, six giants hold the large saucer-shaped vessel aloft and from it a curtain of water spills down around them. The men, representing different ages, may be interpreted as toiling with the burden of life and the effort expended in lifting the heavy vessel varies. Water, a universal symbol of fertility, is used within the fountain complex in a meaningful juxtaposition with the twenty "tree groups" on the surrounding parapet, the latter evidently symbolizing the "tree of life."

The combination of human beings and trees in two meter high sculptures is one of Vigeland's most original concepts. The tree groups represent a romantic expression of Man's relationship to nature. The also form the setting for life's evolving stages, stretching from childhood and adolescence through adulthood to old age and death.


What a difference a day makes, all a bit grey. This is a view from the pond looking up to the bridge. My mum would often come here to ice skate as a young girl. Below is Daisy, with 'Percy the Bear' the nursery mascot that has his own passport and a diary full of adventures. Here they stand with perhaps the most famous sculpture in the park, 'Sinnataggen,' or 'Angry Boy.'

Granite Sculptures depicting the cycle of Life.

Surrounding the Monolith are 36 groups in granite depicting the cycle of life. Every sculpture includes at least two figures depicting Man in a variety of typical human situations and relationships. A man and woman sit facing one another with a little child between them. Children play, young men and women dream and embrace. Old age is represented in several groups. The groups show a certain variation in composition and form. Initially, Vigeland wanted to retain the volume of the granite block. The figures from this early period are broad and simple with a minimal of detail. Later, however, he introduced greater differentiation of composition and figure style and more space was allowed between figures. Although a skilled carver himself, Vigeland did not sculpt directly in granite. He modeled the groups in full size and employed professional artisans to do the time-consuming work of transferring the original models into stone.

Percy has fun joining a  baby stack statue.

Some tourists took a shine towards Daisy and asked to take their photograph with her. Bemused I took one of them!

The Monolith.

The column, 14.12 meters (46 feet) high carved out of a single block of stone, consists of 121 figures. Modeled by Vigeland in the years 1924-25, it took three stone carvers from 1929 to 1943 to complete the Monolith, just shortly before Vigeland died. The column is completely covered by human figures in relief, singly or in groups. At the bottom there are seemingly inert bodies. Above them figures ascent in a spiral, the movement halting midway and then rising at a fast pace towards the summit which is covered by small children. Various interpretations of the Monolith have been suggested: Man's resurrection, the struggle for existence, Man's yearning for for spiritual spheres, the transcendence of everyday life and cyclic repetition.

Daisy tries skiing down hill at 3years old, meanwhile Iris at 9month's takes it easy!

Talking to Dad on Skype back home in the UK.

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