Norwegians seem to be constantly coming from, going to, or actively engaged in robust outdoor activities. Oslo is a sea of bouncing ponytails (from the almost comical amount of joggers.) The trains are full of cross-country ski shleppers. Women in their seventies are hiking with backpacks and bedrolls. There’s a national obsession with cabins (one man said to us “We don’t know why they are putting up a shopping center—none of us are interested in that, we just want to go to our cabins.”)
Norway’s public art is loaded with nudity, but not in a salacious way, rather a wholesome sort of nudity reflecting all that hearty outdoorsmanship. Even recent public art has 1930’s socialist-realism vibe, as if the nude Norwegians depicted are frolicking in mountain-fed lakes after a day laboring on a farm.
Frogner Park in Oslo is ground zero for nude public sculpture. The sculptures are all the work of Gustav Vigeland. Basically Vigeland went to the city administrators and said “Give me an art studio and a park and I’ll take it from there.” And so he did, from the 1920’s until he died in 1943. This park is huge and Vigeland was no slacker. I can’t say I have a taste for this sort of art but I do love that the good bureaucrats of Oslo gave over a large public space for sculpture after sculpture of naked people tossing babies around.
I mean, it isn’t all baby tossing but you walk into the park on a promenade with a distinct baby flinging theme.
Hey, you’d be pissed off too if people were kicking you around in a park all day.
After the baby swinging promenade, naturally you encounter a fountain…
In which there are trees with naked babies inside.
Step through the iron gates featuring Tom of Finland’s wholesome Norwegian cousins…
And dang if that isn’t a 45 foot high monolith of nudes squished into a column!
Heavy handed? Oh maybe just a pinch.
Sorry to disappoint but HOB and I toured the park fully clothed. Rest assured, however, we did have a picnic in front of Vigeland’s finest (and we properly disposed of our trash afterwards).
While Frogner park has plenty of wholesome nudes, it lacks public restrooms. There was a pay toilet, which accepted only credit cards (!) and costs about $3.
I forgot to record the name of this work, but I believe it was “The Despair of Travelers Who Are Too Cheap to Pay $3 to Pee.”