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ON THE PATHS OF THE SOUL - Gustav Vigeland and Polish Sculpture around 1900

4 June - 22 August 2010


This summer’s exhibition at the Vigeland Museum presents works by the then young and unknown Gustav Vigeland, together with works by some of his Polish contemporaries. The exhibition gives the public a unique opportunity to see Vigeland’s works in a new context, and presents a hitherto unknown connection between Vigeland and Polish Sculpture around 1900.

The connection was established thanks to the legendary Polish writer Stanislaw Przybyszewski (1868-1927). He was married to the Norwegian Dagny Juel, and he was an important figure in the infamous Ferkel circle in Berlin during the 1890s. Among those congregating at the café Zum Schwarzen Ferkel were the artist Edvard Munch and the Swedish playwright August Strindberg. Of less knowledge is Przybyszewski’s friendship with Vigeland, and that in fact Przybyszewski was the first to publish articles on the artist in European journals. In addition he presented Vigeland in Poland and was an ardent promoter of his art.

The exhibition takes its title from Przybyszewski’s essay on Vigeland, On the Paths of the Soul (1897). Przybyszewski’s reflections on art had a great impact on several important Polish artists around this time, such as Xawery Dunikowski (1875-1964), Boles?aw Biegas (1877-1954) og Wac?aw Szymanowski (1859-1930). The exhibition therefore focuses on subject matters such as anguish and despair as well as Satanism, which was of special interest to Przybyszewski. Vigeland’s relationship with his Polish colleagues and contemporaries can be seen in his works, as during this period they developed towards Symbolism – where inner feelings were sought after – rather than the more harsh, down-to-earth Realism. Przybyszewski’s position as editor of the Zycie journal in Krakow was also an important source of inspiration for the young Polish artists. Articles on Vigeland were printed and his works were reproduced, causing quite a stir, and the journal was confiscated by the Polish authorities.

The exhibition consists of sculptures by 11 Polish artists in addition to works by Gustav Vigeland, and is a cooperation project between The Vigeland Museum and The National Museum in Crakow with 28 works on loan from seven Polish art institutions.

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The film (10 min.) is ordered by the National Museum in Krakow to present the Vigeland Museum and the exhibition for Polish viewers and is made by FABER STUDIO and Andrzej Korneck, Michal Bozek and Krzysztof Gustyn.

On the Paths of the Soul was shown at the National Museum in Crakow 5 October - 26 December 2010. Curator: Agata Malodobry. Read more about the exhibition here.

In connection with the exhibition, an illustrated cataloge was made with texts in English, Norwegian and Polish. The catalogue can be ordered from the Museum Shop. Pictures and more info here.
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Trine Otte Bak Nielsen was responsible for the exhibition. Phone (+47) 23 49 37 00.
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The exhibition has been made possible through generous support from EEA Grants.