Friday, September 13, 2013

Inspired by a Norwegian Sculptor's Lifework

An author might consider a single best-seller a worthy life's work; a composer might aspire to having a single symphony performed by a world-class orchestra, and most artists only dream of having one masterpiece hung in a national museum. Not Gusray Vigeland. The Norwegian sculptor produced apprixmiately 1,600 sculptures in his lifetime, with 227 of his granite and bronze sculptures displayed in Oslo's 80 acre Frogner Park. Vigeland Sculpture Arrangement is his legacy.

The sculptor's themes are apparent, appearing again and again throughout the park. Multiple statues chiseled in stone or cast in bronze depict the continuation of humanity beginning with a baby in a womb, nurtured by a mother and father, then relating to peers before finding a mate and beginning a new cycle. Meanwhile the man and woman mature in the process, until finally, old age overtakes first one and then the other.

Travel with me through the park on man's journey from cradle to grave. Take note of the relationship between a man and a woman on the wheel of life. See family illustrated. You will be amazed and inspired.

Vigeland seems to be saying that life comes full circle with a man and a woman supporting each other.

The sculptor tells the universal story of every man, every woman. Just inside the park below the bridge, he placed eight statues of infants at various stages to illustrate how we all begin.

The small statues encircle a column on which rests an unborn child.

Just above on the bridge are statues of mothers protecting infants,
 fathers carrying children,

and parents playing with their offspring. 

No wonder adults care for little ones. Who hasn't loved a child about this age in spite or because of his willfulness?

Vigeland captured the innocent, free abandonment of childhood,

as well as the protective role adults play in their development.

As one progresses through the park, you experience the vigor of young adulthood

and the sweet protective love of a young husband for his wife

which makes room for offspring.

Vigeland's depiction of a grandmother's love for all her grandchildren captured my heart,
while Bill related to the grandfather passing on his love and wisdom.

I smiled at the expression on this elderly woman's face. You have to agree, it would be disconcerting to see this in the mirror! 

At the apex of the park stands a column made up of 121 figures. Observing you see people drawn upward holding on to each other. Don't we all yearn for heaven, but need one another?

These photos are a smattering of the over 200 hundred sculptures in this park. Furthermore, these are a tiny fraction of the over 1600 works Vigeland created in his lifetime (1869-1943). No wonder he is called the most prolific sculptor of all time!

Personally, I was overwhelmed by the scope of Vigeland's vision. He saw life from beginning to end and clearly wanted to communicate the importance of parents and grandparents passing on to the subsequent generation love.

As I reflected on Oslo, Norway's treasure produced by one man, I was forced to ask myself, "What do I want to pass on to the next generation? Am I hard-working enough to produce a body of work that passes on that message?"

Thank you, Gusray Vigeland, for motivating me to push myself to accomplish more with my life--so those who come after me really grasp love.


  1. Extremely moving sculptures, Marcia. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful pictures. I am interested to find out what Vigeland's own life was like. Really amazing artist.

  2. Thank you for introducing Vigeland's sculpture. It's beautiful and quite moving. What a joy it must have been to see it in person!