It took us a few years to warm to the sculptures of Gustav Vigeland, the most prominent among Norwegian sculptors of the 20th century. But we finally came around and frequently return to explore this park with 227 of Vigeland's monumental sculptures, mostly devoted to the theme of mankind's destiny. The artist worked for a total of 4 decades on this 30-hectare (74-acre) park but, sadly, died 1 year before his lifetime achievement could be completed.
The chief treasure here is the Vigeland Monolith, a 16m (52-ft.) sculpture composed of 121 colossal figures, all amazingly carved into one piece of stone. The monolith is easy to spot, as it rises on top of the highest hill in the park. Summer lovers often visit it at night, as it's floodlit and somehow seems even more dramatic at that time. A set of circular steps envelops the statue. On the steps leading up to the monolith are 36 groups of other figures carved in stone by the great artist. The column itself, with its writhing figures, is said to symbolize the struggle of life, which is one of the main themes running through Vigeland's work.
The "best of the rest" of the sculptures lie along a paved axis stretching for 1km (1/2 mile). These sculptures depict Vigeland's interpretation of life beginning at birth and ending in death. The most famous of these statues, which you'll quickly recognize because it is one of the most reproduced pieces of art in Oslo, is The Angry Boy (Sinnataggen). Based on a sketch Vigeland made in London in 1901, it shows a kid stomping his feet and scrunching his face in anger. We don't know why he's so furious, but we love it.