Adolf Gustav Vigeland (1869 – 1943) Norwegian Sculptor was born at Mandal in South Norway. In early youth he studied wood carving as an apprentice and in 1889 produced his first work as a sculptor, being a relief depicting incidents from the Iliad. Having touched semi-impressionistic art, he eventually adopted a more classical style. Vigeland’s work deals with the primitive emotions of mankind. The City of Oslo in wisdom granted him the large expanse of land within the city which now contains his gift in return, internationally known as ‘Vigeland’s Sculpture Park’. The theme of his creation is ‘The Circle of Life’ and was still incomplete at the time of the German occupation of Norway in 1940. The park contains single statues and groups all which are nude, emphasising Vigeland’s contention that clothes tend to date, and people hide behind them. One of the main features is the Fountain Square with bronze trees and people forming the structure of the fountain, depicting man from birth to death intertwined through the trees in every phase of life. However, the grand finale of the Park is a granite monolith said to weigh several hundred tons and raised above every other feature. Over its entire surface are carved figures of the dead from every age group, symbolically reaching to heaven. It is said that Gustav Vigeland remains the most prolific Sculptor of all time.
O Gustav Vigeland your vision lives
in moulded bronze and sculpted stone;
Which to the human viewer gives,
the present, future and past flown.
In Oslo town you asked for space,
to place thereon a gift from you;
The path and tribulation of our race,
life as of old and ever new.
Silhouettes stand forth in stark relief
on gates that lead to your display;
Of joy in life and surely grief,
as man encounters night and day.
The avenue beckons all in silent tribute,
here lined the gender of our kind;
Devoid of garment, lace or suit,
human traits all around to find.
Men in anger showing strife,
the tearful tantrum little child;
Women suffering trials of life,
tantalising maidens mild.
The road runs to the Fountain Square,
cascade anointing those below;
In the circle of life for us to stare,
where foaming whitened waters flow.
Your greatest piece was cut in stone,
under the invader’s watchful eye;
Granite monolith raised high alone,
ascending dead, hands to the sky.
I gazed and gazed in wonderment,
alive upon your mighty screen;
Sun shining through the firmament,
canopy o’er where you have been.
Monty Alexander 7.2.05