Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Vigeland sculpture park

One of the largest tourist attractions in Oslo is the sculpture park commemorating the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. It is located in the affluent Majorstuen - Frogner area of the Norwegian capital and consists of around 200 sculptures in granite and bronze. Personally I find it rather ugly and think it is a tourist trap to be avoided. One of my objections to the park is that Gustav Vigeland created his works in a period during the rise of German national socialism and Soviet communism, and the park reflects this Zeites Geist clearly. That is nothing to commemorate.

When entering the main gate, there is a walkway in a straight line up to Monolitten, the main feature of the park. It creates one of its two main axis.

First you pass through a wooden park area. As you walk you have the Frogner manor house on your left hand side. The magnificent manor dates as far back as 1750.

As you proceed you pass over the stone bridge decorated with bronze statues. It was the first part of the park that opened to the public, in the tragic year 1940. The main theme is family scenes. Here you find the most famous statue in the whole park - Sinnataggen, meaning a very angry little boy.

The marvelous fountain in the heart of the park was supposed to stand in front of the Norwegian parliament, but was erected in the park after World War II. The enormous vessel is held up by four giant nude males in bronze.

The fountain is surrounded by smaller statues with young children and skeletons playing in trees, an idea inspired by the notion that death creates new life.

The fountain is, in my mind the masterpiece in the park and attracts crowds of admiring tourists, summers as winters.

The statue most admired in the park is Monolitten, literally meaning single stone, a giant phallic monument made from one piece of granite rock weighing hundreds of tons. People crawling up and up to seek spiritual enlightenment is the official interpretation of it.

I cannot help it I always see the survival of the fittest in it instead, representing the ugly variety of social darwinism that was an undercurrent of both Nazi Germany and partly Soviet communism.

The straight line from the gate ends up in a sculpture called the wheel of life. Behind this point you are in a quiet and affluent neighborhood.

Personally I try to avoid taking guests to Oslo to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. There are so much more that Oslo has to offer of sights from a long and interesting history. So that means I do not recommend this as a must for those of you that visit us. Here I am sad to say that I am quite alone, but here you have my piece of mind.

Try the nearby manor house instead. It house the collection of the Oslo City museum. During summer Herregårdskroen (The Manor House Tavern) offers cold pints and something to eat under the tall trees of its old park.

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