Towards Modernity in Sculpture - Gustav Vigeland and his Contemporaries

On the occasion of the Vigeland Anniversary 2019, the Vigeland Museum, in partnership with the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo, is organizing a two-day seminar on the development of sculpture in the period 1890–1920, with a special focus on Gustav Vigeland and his French contemporaries.

The seminar will be held in conjunction with the exhibition “Parallels. Gustav Vigeland and his Contemporaries. Bourdelle, Maillol, Meunier, Rodin” shown in the Vigeland Museum (12 April - 15 September 2019).

A shift within European sculpture took place towards the end of the 19th century, comparable to what had happened in the field of painting a few decades earlier. This was mainly manifested in a break with the preceding academic tradition, or salon sculpture, where the subject matter was generally related to mythological and allegorical topics and the execution characterized by a delicate flair. In this transitional context, Auguste Rodin is considered the leading figure. His break with the past was not radical, but his extensive experimentation with form and movement was liberating. Another pioneer was the Belgian artist Constantin Meunier. In his realistic representations of workers, one finds a simplification of form and omission of details, an indication of what was to come. In the early 19th century, sculpture develop in different directions, but a (gradual or radical) simplification can be said to be a common denominator.

This seminar seeks to shed light on various aspects of the development of modern sculpture. How pivotal was the impact of art from earlier ages, in particular Greek and medieval art? In what way were artists influenced by current ideologies and philosophical ideas? What is it that characterizes the monumental sculpture of the period?


Day 1: Thursday 23 May

10:00. Registration and coffee

10:30. Welcome speech by Museum Director Jarle Strømodden, Vigeland Museum

Medieval Influence on the Development of Modern Sculpture
Panel Chair: Margrethe C. Stang, NTNU

Kjartan Hauglid, De kongelige samlinger
Impressions from Florence – Gustav Vigeland's exhibition in Trondheim, 1897

Marthje Sagewitz, German Center for Art History (DFK Paris) / University of Leipzig
Rodin, Vigeland and the Middle Ages. Another Way towards Modernity

Louis Gevart, Art Historian
Gothic as the New Humanism? Vigeland, French Sculpture and the Medieval Model


12:15 Lunch Break

Towards Monumentality
Panel Chair: To be announced

Åsa Cavalli-Björkman, Carl Eldhs Ateljémuseum/Linda Hinners, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
Tradition and Modernity in Swedish Sculpture during the Late 1800s and Early 1900s

Dalibor Prančević, University of Split/Barbara Vujanović, Ivan Meštrović Museums – Meštrović Atelier, Zagreb
Political Strength of the Sculptural Programme: Ivan Meštrović and the Position of his Sculpture in the First Three Decades of 20th Century Art

Natàlia Esquinas Giménez, Barcelona University
Crowds of Bronze and Stone People


14:55-15:10: Concluding remarks

17:00-19:00 – Reception in the Vigeland Museum. The anniversary exhibition “Parallels. Gustav Vigeland and his Contemporaries” will be open to participants at the seminar.

Day 2: Friday 24 May

09:30: Coffee

A Philosophical Perspective on Modernist Sculpture
Panel Chair: Gustav Jørgen Pedersen, UiO 

Ingvild Torsen, University of Oslo
The Sculpted Body of Early Modernism as a Challenge to Philosophical Aesthetics

Tobias Kämpf, Art Historian
The Unease of Civilisation: Nietzsche at the Dawn of Modernist Sculpture in France


11:00 Coffee Break

Incentives in Vigeland's Art

Panel Chair: Elin-Therese Aarseth, Vigeland Museum

Ingvild Hammervoll, Art Historian
The Wrestling Motif – from Antique Sculpture to Modern Ideal? 

Elsebet Kjerschow, National Museum, Oslo
Gustav Vigeland and the Demonic Dance


12:15 Lunch Break

Reframing Antiquity
Panel Chair: Trine Otte Bak Nielsen, Munch Museum

Guri Skuggen, Vigeland Museum
Gustav Vigeland – Classicist or Modernist?

Davy Depelchin, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
‘A Tendency to Realism, Classical by Nature.’ Reframing Antiquity through Constantin Meunier’s Sculpture.


14:15 Coffee Break

Panel Chair: Jarle Strømodden, Vigeland Museum

Stoyan V. Sgourev, ESSEC Business School, Paris
An Intersection of Centrality and Marginality in Modern Art: an Analysis of the Students of Antoine Bourdelle

Patric Steorn, Thielska Galleriet, Stockholm
Negotiating Public Art in Times of Nationalism. Gustav Vigeland and Ernest Thiel


15:30-16:00: Concluding remarks

Conference fee:

Two-day seminar: NOK 300,-/150,- (students).
One day seminar (Thursday 23 May or Friday 24 May): NOK 200,-/100,- (students)

The fee covers coffee/tea, lunch and reception in the Vigeland Museum Thursday afternoon.  

Please register here. You will receive information about how to pay when registered.

The planning committee: Øystein Sjåstad, Erik Mørstad, Jarle Strømodden, Elin-Therese Aarseth and Guri Skuggen

For questions:

Published Mar. 28, 2019 9:30 AM - Last modified May 19, 2019 11:33 AM