Friday, July 27, 2018

Millesgarden in Stockholm

Facing Stokholm, the island of Lidingo holds the studio, house and garden of Carl Milles (1875-1955), Swedish sculptor. His naked and playful youth in fountains caused controversy in America. His work includes mythological figures, angels, young men, Swedish history characters as well.

He loved to place his sculptures high in the air, on top of columns, or with discreet metal bars, so they look floating or flying in the air. Some of his sculptures are located in various places in Stockholm, although most are in Millesgarden, or in USA.

Millesgarden, name given today to the plot of land that Carl Milles purchased in 1906, is a beautiful setting, which took several decades to be achieved, between the house, the studio, the loggia, the various fountains, terraces, and gardens. It can remind Italy's Mediterranean coast.


One of these fountains is the Aganippe fountain (1955), filled with muses (Carl Milles replaced them by young men) symbolizing arts and sciences: sculpture with a mini-Pegasus statue, painting with flowers, and music with a saxophone.

Carl Milles liked to place architectural elements in his garden, and he often acquired or gathered columns, marble archs, from demolished palaces, or hotels, etc. to place them at the entrance of stairs between 2 levels of terraces, or to support a sculpture.

One example of this is the 'Wings' sculpture (1908), (actually I would call it Ganymède, the myth that inspired the sculptor, with Zeus disguised as an eagle abducting the beautiful young man) which is located on top of a column that originates from the King Gustav III Opera House, demolished in 1891. A copy of that sculpture is also visible on a Stockholm bridge.

The lower terrace, overlooking the water, is a really large space, displaying superb sculptures, and initially planned to contain a swimming pool, meeting places, ice and skate rinks, waterfall etc. But these elements were not achieved, except the waterfall.

He sculpted many angels, like the Angel Musicians, and the Ice skating angels.

Another example of sculpture high on a column is the man and Pegasus (1949). The flying horse with the child of Poseidon.

Talking about Poseidon, Milles sculpted this one, 7 meters high, standing naked (1930), holding a fish, and a shell. His hat is a shell, and his hait is composed of mussels. His face is quite unique.

Another naked sculpture, the astronomer, looking towards the sky. His hands hold a compass (tool of the sculptor) and a sphere (actually a dodecahedron, a 12-sided volume, tool linked to space). This aims to illustrate the interest of Carl Milles for the life and human condition, as he started to study astronomy very young with his father, then purchased a telescope. His house contains also a tower used as an observatory.

Here is another example of sculpture, located high in the sky, on top of a column : the hand of God (1940).

Carl Milles went to Paris when he was 22, studied the Fine Arts there and met Rodin. In 1903, then aged 48, he travelled to Holland, and to Belgium where he met the sculptor Constantin Meunier, who, at his surprise, had similar sculpting preferences.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Gustav Vigeland sculpture park in Oslo

In the center of Oslo, Norway, the Vigeland sculpture park exhibits more than 200 impressive nude sculptures, in bronze and granite, as well as wrought iron, made by Gustav Vigeland. Among his preferred themes, the male body, the family, the dragon, the death.

I was lucky to visit this park in May 2018, and therefore am very pleased to share some pictures and information about the key elements and sculptures in this park. Several distinct areas are filled with sculptures, like the bridge, 100 m long, with 58 bronze sculptures, representing human relationships.

Or the gigantic fountain, supported by several men, which express the link between humanity and nature. I also liked the other sculptures, humans almost inside trees, all around the fountain.

The Monolith was modelled by Vigeland, who let stone carvers achieving the sculpture, which took 10 years. The design includes over 100 characters, and is close to 15 meters high. All around the monolith, are other granite sculptures, 36 in total, a very impressive group of man, women, children in various situations.

Several magnificent gates in wrought iron welcome the visitors, as well as other metal sculptures like the sundial, visible either in the park, or inside his museum.

The 'Wheel of life' : as mentioned in the Vigeland park website (see the link in 'Sources' at the end of this post) this sculpture sums up the dramatic theme of the entire park: Man's journey from cradle to grave, through happiness and grief, through fantasy, hope and wishes of eternity'.

The nearby Vigeland museum holds maquettes of his projects, as well as his plaster models. Indeed he often designed and modelled his idea in plaster, before asking stone carvers to realize his projects.

Gustav Vigeland, born in 1869, had a schildhood surrounded with craft among his family, and went to Oslo to learn woordcarving. Later, he decided he wanted to be a sculptor, and, once aged 22, travelled to Paris, where he attended sculpture classes in Rodin workshop, went also to Florence, Copenhagen and Berlin.

He also worked for the restoration of the famous Nidaros catheral, in the previous Norwegian capital, Trondheim. He probably adopted one of his themes, the dragon, at that time, being in close contact with medieval art.

Video 1 - by Gay Travellers magazine
Video 2 - by Vigeland museum

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hendrik Christian Andersen

Hendrik Christian Andersen is a Norwegian/American sculptor, who often depicts muscular characters, and naked males. He got additional fame with his loving relationship with the American writer Henry James.

The love letters that he received from the novellist have been published and testify their beautiful love. He met him in 1899, when aged 27. A loving relationship which will only end when Henry James died in 1916.

Hendrik Christian childhood was spent in Rhode island, as a young immigrant who arrived with his parents. He then moved to Rome at the age of 21. He was convinced that art is one of the best way to inspire perfection, peace and harmony among people, and he sculpted and draw projects with that in mind. He was also a writer and urban planner.

Andersen died in Rome in 1940.

The museum in Rome is actually his previous beautiful home, the Palazzo Mancini, containing his work (close to 400 art pieces). The museum also displays maps, maquettes and planned sculptures for his dream : a 'World Arts city' he imagined for a Greek island with his friend and partner, the poet and aviator Guido Keller. But the project was stopped when Keller died in 1929. Other sources mention the 'World Communication Center', focussed on art, science and sports, to be possibly located in Belgium or Swizerland. Some say it was to be built in the South of Rome. The mystery remains...