Category Archives: Sculpture

Gustav Vigeland 4.11.13 Thought of the Day

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Adolf Gustav Vigeland was born on this day outside Halse og Harkmark  in Mandal, Norway in 1869. Today is the 144th anniversary of his birth.

He was born to Anne and  Elesæus Vigeland. His father was a master cabinetmaker. Gustave was interested in wood as a medium too, but he wanted to carve it, not make cabinets with it. He went to Oslo at 15 to apprentice at wood carving. His education was put on hold when his father died and Gustav returned home to help support he family. But by 1888 he was back in Oslo studying under sculptor Brynjulf Bergslien. In 1889 he premiered his first work, Hagar and Ishmael.

Portrett av Gustav Vigeland

Portrett av Gustav Vigeland (Photo credit: National Library of Norway)

Starting in 1891 she traveled to Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin and Florence. His stay in Paris, studying  at Auguste Rodin’s studio had a particular influence on the young sculptor.

Themes of life, death and  love — at once intimate and grand in scale — made their way into his sculpture.

Conceptions of death recur in a number of his works, and his portrayals range from melancholy and desolation to deep affection and ecstasy of the embrace. [The Robinson Library]

Frogner famous for housing the Vigeland Sculpt...

Frogner famous for housing the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which was created by Gustav Vigeland in the 20th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His works were well received in art circles and by critics, but Gustav found he couldn’t make a living sculpting naked images of death or love.

He took a unfulfilling job helping to restore the Nidaros Cathedral in 1897 for a few years — it was there that he began to carve dragons and lizards, animals he used later to symbolize sin and the force of nature working against man. He spent a decade carving busts of Norway’s famous writers and thinkers. He designed the Nobel Peace Prize which was first awarded in 1901.

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Back of the Nobel Peace Prize. [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Gustav secured an abandoned studio from the city of Oslo starting in 1902. He used the work space for nearly two decades before it was demolished to make way for the new Deichman Library. At that point he negotiated with the city council for a new workspace. They would provide him with a new studio/living space and he would donate all his future art works to the city. (Which explains why so little is of Vigeland’s art is found outside of Oslo, and why the city is so beautifully decorated by it.)


Detail of some of the hundreds of sculpture in Vigeland Park. [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Oslo’s Vigeland Park  is the world’s largest sculpture park designed by a single artist. The park boast…

over 600 human figures engraved in 192 different sculptures. All of them, amazing. The masterpiece of the park is “The Monolith” a towering spire figures ascending to eternity. Gustav Vigeland is the man who designed the models for every sculpture in the park. A team of sculptures work for years to create all the granite and bronze statues. The various sculptures portray lots of widely ranging aspects of the human condition. There are many sculptures depicting intense emotions and feelings; love, parenthood, innocence, violence, suffering and joy. In all of the sculptures, there is a deeply moving and poetic statement about life. []

When he died in 1943 his studio was converted into The Vigeland Museum. Today the museum “houses approximately 1,600 sculptures, 420 woodcuts, and 12,000 drawings, as well as other artifacts such as notebooks, photographs, books, and thousands of letters belonging to Vigeland.” [Real Scandinavia]

Wheel of Life scuopture at Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Wheel of Life scuopture at Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

"Ball of Babies" at the Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

“Ball of Babies” at the Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

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Michelangelo 3.6.13 bonus Thought of the Day

“I live and love in God’s peculiar light.” — Michelangelo

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Some days are deserts I struggle to find some one to profile on this blog…and some days are overwhelming. Today, besides Dame Kiri (who got the official Thought of the Day birthday nod) Michelangelo, Cyrano De Bergerac, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Willie Mays, and astronaut Gordo Cooper were on the A List for a possible birthday nod. I think it came down to the fact that I wanted to listen to some opera today, so Kiri won.

But I just can’t ignore Michelangelo. 

Especially given what is happening RIGHT NOW in what is arguably his most famous “installation” the Sistine Chapel.


Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born  on this day in Caprese, Italy in 1475. Today is the 538th anniversary of his birth.

The family soon moved to Florence, when Michelangelo was still a baby. His mother was ill, so little Michelangelo was sent to a wet-nurse who was part of a family of stone cutters.

Michelangelo’s father realized early on that his son had no interest in the family financial business, so agreed to apprentice him, at the age of 13, to the fashionable Florentine painter’s workshop. There, Michelangelo was exposed to the technique of fresco. Michelangelo had spent only a year at the workshop when an extraordinary opportunity opened to him: At the recommendation of Ghirlandaio, he moved into the palace of Florentine ruler Lorenzo the Magnificent, of the powerful Medici family, to study classical sculpture in the Medici gardens. []

“Faith in oneself is the best and safest course.” — Michelangelo

He went back to Florence in 1495 and worked  as a sculptor. Three years later he moved to Rome where he met Cardinal Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas.

Michelangelo sculpted his Pieta, a sculpture of Mary holding the dead Jesus across her lap, for the Cardinal’s tomb.


Rome tickets & pictures 2010 082


Carved from a single piece of Carrara marble, the fluidity of the fabric, positions of the subjects, and “movement” of the skin of the Pieta—meaning “pity” or “compassion”—created awe for its early spectators. [Ibid]

His next major work was David.


front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He “turned the 17-foot piece of marble into a dominating figure.” [Ibid]

“A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.”— Michelangelo

Next he was asked by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The project fueled Michelangelo’s imagination, and the original plan for 12 apostles morphed into more than 300 figures on the ceiling of the sacred space. … Michelangelo fired all of his assistants, whom he deemed inept, and completed the 65-foot ceiling alone, spending endless hours on his back and guarding the project jealously until revealing the finished work, on October 31, 1512…. The resulting masterpiece is a transcendent example of High Renaissance art incorporating the Christian symbology, prophecy and humanist principles that Michelangelo had absorbed during his youth. The vivid vignettes of Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling produce a kaleidoscope effect, with the most iconic image being the Creation of Adam… [Ibid]


michelangelo (Photo credit: 熊͘)

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click here for a virtual 3-d tour of the Sistine Chapel.

“I am still learning.”— Michelangelo

After the Sistine Chapel his work moved more toward architecture. He designed the tomb for Pope Julius II, the Laurentian Library in Florence, and the Medici Chapel. In 1546 he was appointed as the new architect for St. Peters Basilica in Rome. He designed the famous dome that crowns the church and work was well underway on it when Michelangelo died on Feb 18, 1564.

Robert MacPherson (1811-1872) - Rome - St. Pet...

Robert MacPherson (1811-1872) – Rome – St. Peter’s Dome in the Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last Judgment of Michelangelo Buonarroti

Last Judgment of Michelangelo Buonarroti (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The Last Judgement is a massive painting that takes up the alter wall of the Sistine Chapel. It took 4 years to complete.

Thought of the Day 9.22.12 Louise Nevelson

“I never feel age…If you have creative work, you don’t have age or time.”

–Louise Nevelson

Leah Berliaswsky was born on this day in Perislav, Russia in 1899. This is the 113th anniversary of her birth.

Her family lived in Czarist Russia until 1905 when they emigrated to Rockland, Maine in the United States. Her father worked as a woodcutter, owned a junkyard, a lumberyard and became a realtor.

When Leah saw a bust of Joan of Arc at the local library she knew she wanted to become an artist. She started to take art lessons, and experimented in drawing & watercolors.

Nevelson in a 1913 class picture. (She is fourth from the left) [Image is courtesy Wikimedia Commons.]

Upon graduating high school she began to work as a stenographer in New York. She met Charles Nevelson of the Nevelson Brothers shipping company. The two married in 1920. She began to study art in earnest adding singing, acting and dancing to the mix. In 1922 she gave birth to Myron (Mike) Nevelson. Two years later the family moved to Mount Vernon, NY. Louise felt stifled by the small town environment and role she was expected to play as dutiful wife. She longed for the artistic life she knew in New York City.

Louise Nevelson as a young woman. [Image courtesy: Abstract]

In 1931 she left both her husband and her son and took a trip to Europe. She studied with cubist Hans Hofmann in Munich, but as the NAZIs began their stranglehold on the city she left for Italy and France.  In 1932 she came back to the United States, where she continued to work with Hofmann (he was now teaching at the Art Students League) and she officially separated from her husband. In 1933 she worked with Diego Rivera on his Man at the Crossroads mural at Rockefeller Plaza. Shortly after that she took a sculpture class at the Education Alliance, and decided to focus on sculpture as her medium of choice.

At first she produced…

primarily cubist figure studies made from bronze, plaster and clay… It wasn’t until 1943 that the art-world got their first glimpse of what would become Nevelson’s signature style of assembling wood.  [Abstract]

In the 1940s she began to make pieces from reclaimed materials and scraps of wood.

Nevelson… crafted surreal, totemic monuments that served loosely as maps to the artist’s mind. … Nevelson also cultivated her extravagant personal style, which included long dresses and false eyelashes, to dovetail with her desire to express emotion through art. [The Art]

One of her most famous sculptures is Dawn’s Wedding Feast, a room size installation created in 1959 made of wood and white paint. The installation has four chapels, a bride, groom, wedding cake, various other pieces and hanging columns that represent the wedding guests. It was too big and too expensive for one buyer to purchase so Nevelson broke the installation into sixteen stand alone pieces.


Dawn’s Wedding Feast, 1959-60 [Image Courtesy

In her “Late Period” she abandoned “typical carpentry” and “Her process became purely additive, wherein she stacked and balanced objects before nailing together and painting them…” [The Art]  She selected small scaled pieces that worked together to form a larger installation.

Black Zag Z — 1969 [Image courtesy: Abstract]

Nevelson and her granddaughter Neith in 1967. Photo by Ugo Mullas. [Image Courtesy]

Nevelson toward the end of her life. [Abstract]

By the time she died in on April 17,1988, Louise Nevelson was considered by many to be one of the most important American sculptors of the twentieth century and one of the world’s best-known woman artists.  [Abstract]

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