Vigeland Sculpture Park

Frogner Park (Frognerparken) is a public park located in the borough of Frogner in Oslo, Norway. The park contains the world famous Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigelandsanlegget) designed by Gustav Vigeland.

Frogner Park consists of various bridges, fountains and a well known picnic area, popular in the summer for sunbathing, games, and relaxation. It also contains both Frognerbadet and Frogner Stadium. The park is the largest park in the city and covers 32 hectares.

History

In the middle of the 18th century Hans Jacop Scheel, then owner of the area, formed a garden. It was expanded by the people who followed him, starting with Bernt Anker (1746–1805) who bought Frogner Manor and the surrounding area in 1790 and expanded the main building. Benjamin Wegner took over the property in 1836 and he transformed the park into a romantic park around 1840. Later, most of the property was sold to private owners.

Around one square kilometer remained when the City of Oslo bought the property in 1896 to secure space for further urban development. The municipal government decided around 1900 to make a park for recreation and sports. Frogner Stadium was opened near the road and the area near the buildings were opened to the public in 1904. Norwegian architect Henrik Bull designed the grounds and buildings used in Frogner Park for the Norwegian Jubilée Exhibition in 1914.

The municipal government subsequently decided that Gustaf Vigeland's fountain and all his monuments and statues should be placed in the park. The area was ready for Gustav Vigeland fountain in 1924 and the final plan was released in 1932 by the city-council. Most of the statues depict people engaging in various typically human pursuits, such as running, wrestling, dancing, hugging, holding hands and so on. However, Vigeland occasionally included some statues that are more abstract, including one statue, which shows an adult male, fighting off a horde of babies.

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park covers 80 acres (320,000 m2) and features 212 bronze and granite sculptures all designed by Gustav Vigeland. In 1940 the Bridge was the first part of the Sculpture Park to be opened to the public. 58 of the park's sculptures reside along the Bridge, a 100 metre (328 ft) long, 15 metre (49 ft) wide connection between the Main Gate and the Fountain. All are clad in bronze and contribute to the Human Condition theme of the park. Here visitors will find one of the park's more popular statues, Angry Boy (Sinnataggen). Visitors could enjoy the sculptures while most of the park was still under construction. At the end of the bridge lies the Children’s Playground, a collaboration of eight bronze statues, all in the likenesses of children at play.

Originally designed to stand in Eidsvolls plass in front of the Parliament of Norway, the Fountain (Fontenen) was fabricated from bronze and adorned with 60 individual bronze reliefs. Portraying children and skeletons in the arms of giant trees, the Fountain suggests that from death comes new life. On the ground surrounding the Fountain lies an 1800 square meter mosaic laid in black and white granite. It took Vigeland a great deal of time to establish the monument: from 1906 to 1947.

The Main Gate to Vigeland Sculpture Park is forged of granite and wrought iron and serve as an entrance to Frogner Park itself. The monumental Main Gate marks the entrance on Kirkeveien in the east to the 850-meter-long axis that leads through the Bridge to the Fountain, the Monolith, which ends in the Wheel of Life in the west of the park. It consists of five large gates, two small pedestrian gates and two copper-roofed gate houses, both adorned with weather vanes. The Main Gate was designed in 1926, redesigned in the 1930s and erected in 1942. It was financed by a Norwegian bank.

The Monolith Plateau is a platform made of steps that houses the Monolith totem itself. 36 figure groups reside on the elevation bringing with them the “circle of life” message. Access to the Plateau is made via eight figural gates forged in wrought iron. The gates were designed between 1933 and 1937 and erected shortly after Vigeland died in 1943.

At the highest point in the park lies the park's most popular attraction, The Monolith (Monolitten). The name derives from the Latin word monolithus from the Greek word μονόλιϑος (monolithos), derived from μόνος ("one" or "single") and λίϑος ("stone") implying the totem to be fabricated from one (mono) solid piece of stone (lith). Construction of the massive monument began in 1924 when Gustav Vigeland himself modeled it out of clay in his studio in Frogner. The design process took him ten months, and it is speculated that Vigeland had the help of a few sketches drafted in 1919. The model was then cast in plaster.

In the autumn of 1927 a block of granite weighing several hundred tons was delivered to the park from a stone quarry in Halden. It was erected a year later and a wooden shed was built around it to keep out the elements. Vigeland’s plaster design was set up next to it to give reference to its sculptors. Transferring of the figures began in 1929 and took 3 stone carvers 14 years to accomplish. On the Christmas of 1944 the public was allowed to admire The Monolith and 180,000 people crowded the wooden shed to get a close look at the creation. The shed was demolished shortly thereafter. The Monolith towers 14.12 meters (46.32 ft) high and is composed of 121 human figures rising towards the sky. This is meant to represent man’s desire to become closer with the spiritual and divine. It portrays a feeling of togetherness as the human figures embrace one another as they are carried toward salvation.

At the end of the 850-meter-long axis lies a sundial, forged in 1930, and finally the Wheel of Life, crafted in 1933-34. The wheel is more or less a wreath depicting four people and a baby floating in harmony. It is a symbol of eternity, and implies the overall theme of the park: man’s journey from the cradle to the grave.

In popular culture
  • The book The Doomsday Key written by author James Rollins has scenes in Frogner Park
  • The Norwegian movie Elling features a scene in which the sex-obsessed Kjell-Bjarne admires the sculptures of the park with Elling.
  • The science fiction novel Mockymen by Ian Watson utilizes the park as a plot point.
  • The song Vigeland's Dream on Eleanor McEvoy's album "Out There" describes a walk in the park.
Other sources
  • Wikborg, Tone (1985) Gustav Vigeland - His Art and Sculpture Park (Oslo: Aschehoug) ISBN 82-03-16150-2
  • Stang, R. (1991) Guide to the Vigeland Park in Oslo (Arthur Vanous Co) ISBN 978-8251801652

Building Activity

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