Tag Archives: Norway

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. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigeland_Sculpture_Park (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. [Answer.com]

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]

Related blogs:





Thought of the Day 9.13.12 Roald Dahl

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

–Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake). Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left The BFG & Sophie, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James (inside the Peach,) the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, Danny (Champion of the World) and Matilda.

[I gave a little inward squeak of delight when I saw that it was Roald Dahl’s birthday today. I can’t think of a better way to spend a few hours than to reminisce with my old friends Charlie, Matilda, Sophie, James and the rest. What joy!]

Roald Dahl was born on this day in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales, in 1916. Today is the 96th anniversary of this birth.

Although Dahl grew up in Wales his parents were from Norway and the family spoke Norwegian at home. His older sister, Astrid, and his father,Harald, died within weeks of each other when Roald was a toddler. Sophie, his mother, was pressured to bring the family home and live with relatives, but she knew Harald had wanted the children to have a proper English education. So she split the difference.  Summers were spent visiting relatives across the North Sea. Roald and his sisters enjoyed long, sun drenched days on the water and beaches of the Norwegian coast and the family visited with their grandparents in Oslo.

Roald Dahl aged 8. [Image courtesy: The Telegraph]

It was a lovely break for the dreary days at English public school that Dahl described as  being filled with “rules, rules and still more rules to be obeyed.”  His biography Boy: Tales Childhooddetails his exploits, dramas, and adventures growing up… like the time he mixed goat droppings into his older sister’s fiance’s pipe tobacco or the when he and his friend were given Cadbury chocolate samples to taste test at school.

After school Roald wanted adventure…

Though not a good student, his mother nevertheless offered him the option of attending Oxford or Cambridge University …. His reply, …was, “No, thank you. I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China.”…Dahl took a position with the Shell Oil Company in Tanganyika (now Tanzania)

He worked for Shell in Mombasa, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika and had a famous encounter with a black mamba and some lions. At the outbreak of WWII Dahl joined the British Royal Air Force as a pilot — not an easy thing for him to do as he was 6’6″ and the open cockpit of his De Havilland Tiger Moth was built for men who were considerably smaller.  His head stuck up above the windshield.

Dahl in his RAF uniform. [Image Courtesy: Mail Online]

In September 1940 while flying the last leg of a trip across the top of Africa he found himself  running out fuel and was lost. He couldn’t find the target airstrip near Mersa Matruh, Egypt, and had to make a desert landing. He cracked his skull, broke his nose, and was temporarily blinded in the crash. When he woke up he found out that the coordinates he’d been given for the airstrip had been all wrong. HQ had sent him by mistake into a no man’s land between Allied and Axis forces.

He flew other missions — bravely flying with the 80th Squadron  in the Greek Campaign. He described the “Battle of Athens” as “an endless blur of enemy fighters whizzing towards me from every side.” [Going Solo, Scholastic] After that he was sent back to Egypt and flew sorties over the Mediterranean against Vichy France, but he’d begun to have severe headaches — a result of the earlier crash. When the headaches got so bad that he began to black out he was grounded.  He writes about his adventures in Africa and in the War in his second, equally wonderful biography, Going Solo.

Dahl was sent to Washington DC as an assistant air attaché. While in Washington he stepped briefly into the role of a spy. He passed information to MI6 and worked on propoganda to promote the British agenda within the US. It was in DC that he began to write. The Saturday Evening Post published his first piece, “A Piece of Cake” (which it retitled to the more sensational, if less accurate “Shot Down Over Libya,”) in 1942. He also wrote his first book, a novel for adults about  the mythical creatures gremlins. Walt Disney optioned the story for a potential animated film.

The Gremlins is the story of Gus, a British World War II fighter pilot, who during the Battle of Britain turned to look out on the wing of his plane only to see an amazing sight: a little man, no more than six inches tall with horns growing from his head, drilling a hole in the plane’s wing. [Amazon.com]

Although the film was never made a companion book was released on a limited run. The book was re-released in 2006. (The classic Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is an homage to the story.)

Dahl in 1954 [Image Courtesy Wikipedia]

He began to write for children when his own family came along. ( He was married to actress Patricia Neal and had five children with her.)

…Dahl began making up stories for them each night before they went to bed. These stories became the basis for his career as a children’s writer, which began seriously with the publication of James and the Giant Peach in 1961. …Dahl insisted that having to invent stories night after night was perfect practice for his trade… [Roald Dahl Biography]

His other childrens’ books include: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 1964; The Fantastic Mr. Fox 1970, Danny, the Champion of the World 1975;  The BFG 1982; The Witches 1983;  Matilda 1988 and others. He also wrote books of verse for children including the hilarious Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts.  Most of his books have nasty adults who mistreat children, those adults do not fare well in the end. The justification that “Beastly people must be punished,” made Dahl very popular with children of all ages.

Neal and Dahl prior to their marriage. [HubPages.com]

He wrote fiction for adults as well, though it is much more difficult to find. Roald Dahl: Collected Stories is a good place to start and it contains dozens of the writer’s short stories. As does The Best of Roald Dahl.

“Dahl has the mastery of plot and characters possessed by great writers of the past, along with the wildness and wryness of his own. One of his trademarks is writing beautifully about the ugly, even the horrible.” [– The Los Angeles Times on the back of The Best of Roald Dahl]

He also wrote screen plays. He wrote a full script for The Gremlins for Disney, as well as the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)– that creepy child catcher  who trolls the streets of Vulgaria with his candy festooned wagon is 100% Dahl– and the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  For the small screen he penned  6 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents  and several other suspense shows.

Dahl died at the age of 74 from Leukemia.

[Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

%d bloggers like this: