Vigeland Sculpture Park in Norway
Vigeland Sculpture Park, which forms part of Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway, is a fascinating attraction which is popular as a picnic and leisure area with Norwegians, and is visited by tourists from around the world. The park is a remarkable tribute to the immense talent of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943).
Covering an area of eighty acres, the Vigeland Sculpture Park features 212 bronze and granite sculptures which were created by Gustav Vigeland. These impressive works of art are arranged along an 850 meter axis which has been divided into six sections – the Wheel of Life, the Monolith Plateau, the Fountain, the Children’s Playground, the Bridge and the Main Gate.
Vigeland personally designed and sculpted each figure out of clay before contracting craftsmen to fabricate the figures from bronze and granite, creating what is seen today. Although most of the statues are depictions of people engaging in typically human behaviors such as dancing, running, hugging and holding hands, Vigeland did include some works of a more abstract nature, an example being “Man Attacked by Babies” which is a depiction of an adult male fighting off a multitude of tiny babies.
The Main Gate, which is forged of granite and wrought iron, serves as the entrance to the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo. Erected in 1926, the Main Gate consists of five large gates with two smaller pedestrian gates and two gate houses with copper roofs. The Bridge is a 100 meter long, 15 meter wide connection between the Main Gate and the Fountain. Fifty-eight of Vigeland’s bronze-clad sculptures are found along the Bridge which was opened to the public in 1940, while the rest of the park was still under construction. The Children’s Playground is located at the end of the bridge. This collection of eight bronze statues focuses on the theme of children at play and has a granite column in the center supporting a representation of a human fetus.
The Fountain, a representation of the idea that new life comes from death, consists of sixty individual bronze images portraying children and skeletons enveloped in the arms of giant trees. An 1800 square meter black and white mosaic granite-paved area surrounds the Fountain. Reportedly, Vigeland worked on this monument from 1906 through to 1947.
The Monolith Plateau, a platform of stairs with thirty-six figures, houses the Monolith totem itself. As well as being the highest point of the park, it is the most popular attraction. Sculpted from a single block of granite weighing several tons, the Monolith took three stone carvers fourteen years to complete as they recreated Vigeland’s clay model. Finally on Christmas day of 1944, the public was given the opportunity of viewing this more than fourteen meter high masterpiece of 121 human figures rising toward heaven.
At the end of the Vigeland Park’s axis are a sundial and the Wheel of Life which was completed in 1934. The wheel, consisting of four people and a baby, is seen as a symbol of eternity and is in harmony with the overall theme of the park – mankind’s journey through life from the conception through to death. Certainly, Vigeland Sculpture Park is well worth visiting if you are traveling through the beautiful country of Norway.