EMANUEL VIGELAND AND THE "TOMBA EMMANUELLE"
Emanuel Vigeland (1875-1948) was a renowned norwegian artist, especially famous for his stained glass works and fresco paintings. The versatility of his talent was manifested in the variety of materials he worked with to create an extensive collection of artwork. however, emanuel is often overshadowed by his better known brother Gustav Vigeland and by Edvard Munch, another great artist of the same period.
During his childhood, Emanuel enjoyed a close relationship with his brother who encouraged him to start drawing. He entered the Royal art academy in Oslo in 1894, his first step towards becoming an artist. In the following years, Vigeland continued his studies in Copenhagen and Paris, and between 1900 and 1902 travelled to Italy, Spain and England. This brought him under the influence of european symbolism and inspired him to develop figure painting with sombre and dramatic shades.
Vigeland was deeply interested in the human life cycle, and his works focused especially on the subjects of birth and death. This remained the theme of his artwork throughout his life, and was finally realized on a grand scale in the fresco "Vita" in his mausoleum "Tomba Emmanuelle" in Oslo.
The mausoleum is a unique and complex work of art in terms of architecture, painting and sculpture. Vigeland started its construction in 1926, originally intending it as his studio, to be turned into a museum for his artwork after his death. Although the building's exterior was completed in 1927, Vigeland would work on the decorations of the interior for the next 20 years right up to his death. The entry to the mausoleum is very low with the urn with the artist's ashes embedded in a niche above the entry, so that visitors have to bow to enter.
Inside the mausoleum the walls and vaulted ceilings are decorated with frescoes depicting large groups of nude women, men and children. They are entwined together in continuous waves which are spread around the high walls by the master's powerful imagery and energy. The huge-scaled fresco, covering over 800 square metres, creates an uncanny atmosphere under dim illumination, and the special acoustic effect in the mausoleum creates for visitors a mysterious and unforgettable experience.