Welcome to Classroom Europe!

Rick Steves Classroom Europe™ is a free resource allowing teachers to share the best of European art, history, and culture with their students and fellow educators.

A Message from Rick  |  Frequently Asked Questions

close
Playlist Under Construction: None. Add a video to get started!
Playlist Under Construction: None. Add a video to get started!
Add to Playlist

Oslo: Vigeland's Many Statues (2:53)

Oslo, Norway

Within Oslo’s huge Frogner Park is the beloved Vigeland Park, showcasing the work of Norway’s greatest sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. He spent 20 years designing 600 nude statues that reflect the human life-cycle from birth to death. The highlight is his Monolith of Life, a pillar of tangled human figures.

Complete Video Script

Oslo's vast Frogner Park is a perfect place to share a moment with Norwegian families at play. Strolling here, you feel a positive spirit to both rugged and pragmatic celebrating life. The park showcases a lifetime of work by Norway's greatest sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. At the edge of the park, The Vigeland Museum gives an insight into the work of this prolific Norwegian genius. Filled with original plaster models and well-described exhibits, this palatial studio was Vigeland's home and workplace for 20 years.

Vigeland explored the Yin Yang relationship of men and women, was free to produce like mad and ran a virtual factory of art. He didn't personally carve or cast his statues, rather, he formed them in clay or plaster to be executed by his workshop of assistants.

Today, Vigeland's Park is beloved by the people of Oslo. It's both the place to relax and a place to be inspired. Six giants hold a fountain, symbolically toiling with the burden of life as water, the source of life, cascades deadly over them.

In clumps of bronze trees, Vigeland takes us through the seasons of life. In childhood, a boy is filled with wonder. Boys climb while girls stand by quietly. A girl glides through the branches, wide-eyed and ready for life and love. The next stage shows scenes of love. Then life becomes more complicated. A lonely child, a couple plummeting downward perhaps falling out of love, and finally an angry man driving away babies. The fourth corner contemplates the cycle as old age sets in. Finally, as death melts into the branches of the tree of life, you know, new life is ready to bloom.

The centerpiece of the park, a teeming monolith of life surrounded by granite groups continues Vigeland's cycle of life motif. Vigeland explores a lifetime of human relationships in earthbound groups. The figures seem irresistible as visitors playfully engage with the art. Then at the center, a tangle of figures carved out of a single block of stone rocket skyward. Built of bodies, it seems to pick up speed as it spirals. Vigeland left the meaning of his monolith itself opened. Like life in general, it can be interpreted many different ways.