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Monthly Archives: May 2018

Gustav Vigeland is one of the most famous sculptor of Norway. We visited a museum – Vigeland museum (Vigeland museet) in Oslo which houses an almost complete collection of his work.

In 1921 the City of Oslo decided to demolish the house where Vigeland lived and build a library. After a long dispute, Vigeland was granted a new building from the city where he could work and live: in exchange, he promised to donate to the city all his subsequent works, including sculptures, drawings, engravings and models. It was also agreed that the building will be used a museum of his work.

Left row. Use of tree-trunks like structure to create a frame.

Right row. One figure almost fell outside of the frame.

The neo-classical museum was first opened in 1947 which exhibits his works and documents how the sculptures were made.

This one has funny whiskers.

His last name was Thorsen but chose to use the name Vigeland where he lived with his grandparents after his father died.

His work reflects his interest in death and relationships between men and women.

The museum has sketching boards and folding chairs for loan.

Most characteristic to Vigeland’s works in the first half of the 1890’s is an emphasis on the inner life of his figures, combined with a dissolved and almost sketch like form. He was also the designer of the Nobel Peace Prize medal.

Some art critics considered Vigeland’s sculptures to be expressions of nazi or fascist aesthetics.

We did not go upstairs to see where the sculptor lived from 1924 until his death in 1943 (appointment needed to see the apartment).

Initially we also wanted to visit his sculpture park (Vigelandsparken) which is extremely popular. But due to snow which had frozen into sheets of ice, it was impossible for us to go and enjoy the park.

Here is a photo borrowed from Wikipedia of the famous Vigeland installation which features 212 bronze and granite sculptures. The sculptures culminate in the famous Monolith (Monolitten), with its 121 figures struggling to reach the top of the sculpture.

Three shorter versions of the column made of plaster were shown in the museum.

Most of these sculptures were created as a model for the bronze pieces installed in the park.

Fascinating work. See part 2 for more photos of his works.

Loved to have seen the park. Next time.


The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Astrup Fearnley Museet) is a privately owned contemporary art gallery in Oslo in Norway. It was founded and opened to the public in 1993. In 2012 the museum moved to two new buildings designed by Renzo Piano on Tjuvholmen (see previous post about the area).

The museum is funded by two philanthropic foundations established by descendants of the Fearnley shipping family, the Thomas Fearnley Foundation and the Heddy and Nils Astrup Foundation.


Viewer’s discretion advice.


The collection’s main focus is the American appropriation artists from the 1980s, but it is currently developing towards the international contemporary art scene, with artists like Damien Hirst (National History series), Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, Tom Sachs, Doug Aitken, Olafur Eliasson and Cai Guo-Qiang.

Mother and Child (Divided) 1993 – Damien HirstFormaldehyde tanks preserving the mounted corpse of a cow and a calf.

The corpses were cut longitudinally and neatly into two halves with the internal organs exposed.

It was not as shocking as described because the internal organs looked the same as those sold in supermarket.

It was just a bit perturbing to see them in its natural position in functional relationship with the other parts.

God alone knows 2005 – Damien Hirst – another set produced more recently.

A poem is engraved onto the marble pedestal. The text reads:

Here is the night
It is a reflection of the hopeful terror of the day
Be not afraid

Can’t help but associate this piece with biblical crucifixes – the sacrificial lamb.

There is a catalog of its collection online – click here and  here.

Gilbert & George

About their collection, on their web site, they stated that “This exceptional collection does not aspire to present an encyclopaedic overview of international contemporary art.

Instead, it is an agglomeration of works by artists who occupy key positions in the field, either because they have created visual languages, objects and images of great originality and quality, or because they have reinvented significant aspects of cultural production.”

Giant books made of lead – Anselm Kiefer

Francis Bacon

The museum is not big as it only had a few galleries.


They put on temporary exhibitons – so it is well worth coming back.

Continuing with our visit of Oslo …, the Nobel Peace Center (see previous post here) is at the start of Aker Brygge.

Aker Brygge is a part of the Sentrum area, just west of Oslo down town.  It is known for its piers, where eateries with outdoor tables serve international cuisine, or casual fare like burgers and steak. It is one of the most visited area of Norway.

It was the former ship yard of Akers Mekaniske Verksted, which ceased operations in 1982.


A few old industrial buildings were demolished, while several of the major workshop halls were rebuilt as shopping areas. The first step of the construction was finished in 1986.

The area was reorganized between 2010 and 2014.

A popular summer boat bar is moored nearby, and ferries depart year-round for the scenic Oslo Fjord. There were locals and tourists around even in mid-winter – it must be really fun in the summer.

The new development included an inside street, going through the main buildings. Aker Brygge area today consists of 13 separate units.

Local cultural draws include the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (designed by Renzo Piano, see next post).

Tyuvholmen is the area located on a peninsula sticking out from Aker Brygge into the Oslofjord.

The first element of the name is tjuv = ‘thief’, the last element is the finite form of holme = ‘islet’. Thieves were executed here in the 18th century. An older (Danish) spelling of the name was “Tyveholmen”.

The name for a modern hotel on the islet –  The Thief – also originates from this history.

It was a good 20 minutes walk from the Nobel Peace Center to here.

At the tip of the peninsula is the Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park. The park’s concept was designed by Renzo Piano and developed in conjunction with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

We did not have time to walk out to the beach but the sunset was spectacular.

Take a look inside the Astrup Fearnley museum in our next post.

After our visit to Tromsø, we spent a few days in the capital of Norway.

In Oslo, the Nobel Peace Center which was 5 minutes walk from our hotel. It is located in the former Oslo Vestbanestasjon (Oslo West railway station) train station building from 1872, close to the Oslo City Hall and overlooking the harbor.

The Nobel Peace Center opened in the heart of Oslo, Norway on 11 June 2005. It is a center where you can experience and learn about the various Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and their activities as well as the remarkable history of Alfred Nobel.

They used the wall outside too. The building behind the wall is not part of the Center.

The Nobel Peace Prize (Nobels fredspris) is one of the five Nobel Prizes created by the Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature.

Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

The biographies and careers of Nobel Peace Prize laureates can be summoned and replayed on a video system.

The center also serve as voice and meeting place where exhibits, discussions and reflections related to war, peace and conflict resolution is in focus. Obama is here.

The Center combines exhibits and films with digital communication and interactive installations.

The Center has a small book and souvenir shop. Good selection.

In our opinion, the individual exhibits were done well but the overall experience of the visit was underwhelming.