By this point in our Oslo stay, we must have wandered the streets for an hour looking for this park. It isn’t hard to find, but, sure enough, no one could decide on the right way to go. It was raining. I was forced to wear a bright red windbreaker. Everyone was cranky. All I was told was it was a famous park in Norway and that it’d be an experience.
Well, they weren’t kidding.
Upon entering, I first noticed a similar, ahem, trend with the sculptures. Rows upon rows of naked bodies lined the paths of Frogner Park. No one was exempt from the birthday suit policy, minus the artist’s sculpture of himself (a self-sculpture??) The works of Gustav Vigeland celebrated men, women, and children of all shapes and sizes. Made of bronze and granite, each sculpture was carefully crafted – the effect was incredible.
What possessed Gustav Vigeland to create over more than 200 unique forms as his life’s work?
The park’s motif is the circle of life. From young to old, all are timeless in their bare state. Vigeland donated all his sculptures, including future ones, to the city of Oslo. What did he get in return you might ask? A studio to work in and a place to sleep.
.. Definitely not the worst arrangement in the world.
A place to call your own while having free rein and space to create what you love for 20 years?
Gustav had it made.
- Located in Oslo. Norway, the Vigeland statue installation makes Frogner Park the largest sculpture park in the world.
- Started in 1920 by Gustav Vigeland, he sadly did not live to see it’s completion in 1949.
- The statues cover an 80-acre span inside the park.
The apex of it all was a massive Monolith that could be seen from vantage points parkwide. From afar, it didn’t seem to have any distinct features aside from being a little bumpy all around. But upon further inspection, you started to make out the different bodies all intertwined with one another, writing in states of pleasure and pain. Started as a single hunk of granite 18 meters high and slowly whittled it’s way down to soft curves, angular faces, and hairy chests. Babies were stepped on, boobies were groped, and no one was safe from this column of naked togetherness. It took over 14 years to create with the help of three other carvers.
What I found to be pretty wild was seeing bits of the ground around the fountain covered in a black & white granite mosaic and not thinking twice about it. Apparently Vigeland wanted to create a massive labyrinth with the tiles to portray all the blind spots and challenging roads we have to go through in our lives. At 1,800 square meters, this may take a long time to fully attempt to trace though. Yet I suppose the point was just that; life throws all sorts of twists and turns down our path, but with patience we’ll eventually find the right way. Or something like that.
Did Vigeland create his own body-positive movement without realizing it?
The place is certainly a conversation-starter, especially when such a wide range of body types were in full-view. I remember ogling all the “strange” bodies and giggling at the ones that were different from mine. At that time my own form in the mirror, like many women, was full of flaws. My thighs were “huge” when I sat down, my boobs small, and my stumpy legs unbelievably hairy. Yet, even as I found humor in the man being attacked by babies, or the women appearing to pull her hair out, something clicked. These bodies were not at all “perfect” in physique; many represented regular human beings in various stages of life. They had belly rolls, weird butts, and small weenies.
This entire park celebrated life in it’s imperfect, messy self.
One of my favorite parts of the park were the bronze trees circling the fountain. There, one could find more than twenty human forms intertwined. They started with a sculpture representing infancy, gradually working their way into adulthood, into finally a skeleton to serve as a symbol for death. These represented the tree of life and how each stage had it’s own struggles. And maybe with the last skeleton, it served to show how we all return to the earth in the end regardless. But who knows, I’ll let you interpret it as you wish.
Have you ever been to this bizarre naked sculpture park in Norway?
What’s one of the strangest art installations you’ve come across?
Let me know in the comments!