The Vigeland park is a part of the Frogner park in Oslo, Norway. It is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. In this case, Gustav Vigeland. There are more than 200 sculptures in the park made from granite, bronze and wrought iron. Vigeland took part in the layout and architectural design of the park as well. The park was completed between 1939 and 1949, although some of the sculptures are older than this. The park has a 850 metres long axis and the sculptures are mainly in 4 groups along this axis; the Main gate, the Bridge, the Fountain, the Monolith plateau and the Wheel of Life.
Vigeland (1869-1943) came from the town of Mandal, but was sent to school in Oslo as a youth to learn wood carving. When his father died suddenly he came back to Mandal to help his family. He returned to Oslo i 1888. During the years 1891 -1896 he went on several trips abroad and found inspiration from these trips. He work reflects his inspirtion found in the themes of death and the relationship between man and woman.
There was some dispute as to where his grand Fountain should be placed, but in the end it was agreed that it should be in the Frogner park. The other installations followed. Gustav Vigeland was in his time regarded as the most talented of Norwegian sculptors and had numerous commisions for sculptures and busts.
The Monolith is perhaps the most known of this works in granite in the Vigeland park. At least it’s the one I’ve hard most about. The Monolith itself contains 121 figures and is carved out of one block of grainte, hence the name. Mono = one and litho = stone. The height of the Monolith itself is 17.3m. The Monolith is situated at the highest plateu of the Vigeland park. In addtition to the Monolith there are 36 figure groups on the monolith plateu. The theme is the circle of life and depiction typical human situations and relationships.
The Fountain has the longest story of any of the installations in the park. Starting back in 1906 and being completed in 1936. The installation of the Fountain itself wasn’t completed untill 1947, after Vigelands death. The 20 tree groups tells about life from cradle to grave while the reliefs along the side of the fountain tells about the enternal lifecycle of mankind.
The bridge has 58 sculptures in bronze, is 100m long and 15m wide. It was the first to be installed in the park, but the last to be designed by Vigeland. The bronze sculptures depicts the relationships between man and woman, adults and children. The most popular and well known is Sinnataggen – little Angry boy. Although he is far from the biggest sculpture, nor the easiest to spot.
If you ever visit Oslo, I reccomend a trip to the Frogner park, and the Vigeland park in particular. It is open all year round and has no entrance fee. It is an open public park. Even if you aren’t all that into the art itself, it is a very nice walk.