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Vigeland Park is located a little north west of Oslo’s city centre in the Frogner district, and is the largest sculpture park in the world made by a single artist. More than 200 bronze & granite sculptures, and beautiful gates wrought in iron, fill the park. It’s all the work of the dauntingly prolific Gustav Vigeland (1869 – 1943), predominantly made during the last two decades of his life (although sketches and models for many of the sculptures were conceived earlier). It’s a “fantastic concoction, medieval in spirit and complexity” – a weirdly wonderful, exuberantly enigmatic celebration of life, death and everything in between. We made our first visit to the park late at night, and in the darkness and silence it’s a strange and eerie place…
We returned the following day – a breathtakingly beautiful spring day with an indescribably blue sky – for a better look (and to soak up some spring sunshine)…
And here’s the man himself, chisel and club hammer at the ready (and one of the intricate wrought iron entrance gates)…
cloud gazer, aeromancer
For us gardenless urban dwellers, when summer garden-envy kicks in, an opportunity to have a good old snoop around other people’s gardens can be pretty irresistible! Luckily, for three days each year during Amsterdam’s ‘Open Tuinen Dagen‘, this snooping is sanctioned and entirely above-board. This year it was held 14-16 June, and it’s always a pleasure and a surprise to encounter the ‘secret gardens’ and verdant lushness that lie behind the city’s stone and brick facades…
[the bear, csi guy and fawn sculptures are by marjolijn mandersloot.
unfortunately I’m not able to credit any of the others pictured!]
No wanderings in London’s South Kensington would be complete without a visit to the Natural History Museum… if only (when time is tight) to have a(nother) look at the dizzying array of plants and animals sculpted in buff and cobalt-blue terracotta that adorn many of the building’s surfaces.
From the Natural History Museum’s website:
Terracotta tiles provide decoration inside and outside the building. Many feature relief carvings of plants and animals. The buff and cobalt-blue terracotta is both attractive and practical, as a hardy material that could resist the acid smogs of Victorian London.
In his design, Alfred Waterhouse included elaborate sculptures of plants and animals on the interior and exterior of the building, to represent biological diversity. Those on the western wing are of living forms, while those on the eastern side show extinct creatures.
Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London – designed by Alfred Waterhouse 1865 – 1881 (when it opened)
Anthony Gormley (UK, 1950), ‘Firmament III’ 2009 
I don’t always ‘get’ sculpture – in the visual arts I respond much more readily and intensely to two dimensional works (painting, drawing, printmaking, photography) – but I’m always open to confronting, and being confronted by, any artwork.
On Saturday we took a leisurely bike ride along the biennial Artzuid: International Sculpture Route in Amsterdam’s leafy Old South. Here are some of the works along the route, some of the weird, and some of the wonderful…
Atta Kwami (Ghana, 1956), ‘Amsterdam Archways 2011’ 2011 
Thomas Houseago (UK, 1972), ‘Red Man’ 2008 
Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Suriname, 1986), ‘Mighty Man’ 2011 
Koen Vanmechelen (Belgium, 1965), ‘Coming World’ 2011 
Salvador Dali (Spain, 1904-1989), ‘Space Elephant’ 
Ugo Rondinone (Switzerland 1963), ‘Sunrise East’ 2007 
Riyas Komu (India, 1971), ‘My Father’s Balcony’ 2006 
Subodh Gupta (India, 1964), ‘Et tu, Duchamp’ 2009 
Yayoi Kusama (Japan, 1929), ‘Flowers that bloom tomorrow’ 2010 
Yubi Kirindongo (Curaçao, 1946), ‘Equus’ 2010 
Jan Fabre (Belgium, 1958), ‘Searching for Utopia’ 2003 
Frederic Beaufils (France 1969), ‘Terroir’ 2009 
Flowers along the route, made by nature (always the great sculptor :)
If you’re in Amsterdam and have a couple of hours to spare, the sculptures will be in place until 28 August 2011. A route map (they’re positioned along the Apollolaan, Minervalaan and in the Zuidas area) can be found here (numbers in [square brackets] in the picture captions above correspond to the numbers on the map).
Faces spotted around town…