In Norway, culture often goes hand in hand with nature. The great Norwegian artists, authors and musicians have often found their inspiration in the nature, folklore, traditions and history in this country. This continues to this day, where we find a Norway is that modern and multi-cultural, combining its creative roots with the international impulses in a world that is becoming ever smaller.
The Written Word
The written word runs deep here in a country that has spawned literary giants such as Henrik Ibsen, Knut Hamsun and Sigrid Undset, all of whom have stood the test of time. Henrik Ibsen is known as “the father of modern drama”, and in many ways, Ibsen personifies the Norwegian. If you truly want to go deep into the soul of a Norwegian, look closer at Ibsen’s legendary portfolio of work.
Nobel Prize laureate Sigrid Undset reflects Norwegian culture, history and traditions through novels such as “Kristin Lavransdatter”, an epic three-volume work set in Norway in the 14th century. As we round out the “Big Three”, we have Knut Hamsun, who is without a doubt the greatest Norwegian novelist of the 20th century. With a talent for creating great works as well as controversy, Nobel winner Hamsun should be explored by anyone who yearns for great literature.
There are many modern successful authors here in this country, and a number have managed to make the leap beyond Norwegian borders in a big way.These success stories include “Sofie’s World”, a combination of a novel and an elementary introduction to philosophy, written by Jostein Gaarder. With sales of over 30 million copies, this work is easily one of the most successful books
outside of Norway.
Another modern work of note is – controversial and timely – the “Bookseller of Kabul” written by Åsne Seierstad. Seierstad gained entrance into Afghanistan just 2 weeks after the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings, disguised herself with the local burka garb – and wrote of local Kabul life from the perspective of a regular Afghan. This work has spawned controversy and legal action from the time first published.
The Sculpture and the Painter
Certainly the most historical well-known Norwegian artist outside of country borders is Edvard Munch, with a wealth of paintings that include “The Scream”, arguably one of the most well known art images ever. The Scream has been popularized through the years by icons such as Andy Warhol – and even the cartoon character Homer Simpson – the influential character named by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 personalities of the 20th Century.
On the sculpture side of things, Gustav Vigeland should be mentioned for his art as well as for his creativity and imagination. Any visitor to the capital city of Oslo has certainly visited the internationally famous Frogner Park (“Vigeland Sculpture Park”), the largest park in the city covering 80 acres and featuring hundreds of Vigeland’s lifesize sculptures. It is typically Norwegian – a combination of beauty of this natural park with sculptured art showing the true Norwegian soul. If you have not seen the Vigeland Sculpture Park, you will want to put it on your list for your next visit here.
For those of you interested in going deeper into the world of Norwegian Art and Sculpture, is worth your time to take a good look at a well-written Wikipedia site called Art of Norway – or even better – come and experience it for yourself!
Music to your Ears
From the beloved Edvard Grieg and his classical musical description of Norwegian nature, to the pop rock band a-ha with sales of over 50 million units, to the record-breaking 2009 Eurovision victory by Alexander Rybak, to Dimmu Borgir, the metal band that has already had a top 10 album in the US on Billboard´s Heatseekers Chart – Norwegian music is making a difference.
For a country of just under five million people, Norway has been making its mark far beyond its borders for centuries. From roots in classical, traditional folk, a sound sometimes described as “haunting”, Norwegian music with talent across the board in genres including jazz, pop, rock, metal, electronic, world music and of course, the blues.
Go straight to Norway Communicates Music for more insight.
Youth, Controversy and the Ministry
Culture in Norway today is characterized by diversity, with artists, musicians, authors and others breaking out through artistic work and activities that are often controversial. For instance, take the author and designer Ari Behn – who just happens to be married to a princess – Princess Märtha Louise of Norway. His work and his personality is liked by some, disliked by others – but his work is seldom ignored.
This attitude of audacity may not be embraced by the mainstream, but as the point of culture is to communicate, it cannot be overlooked. Norwegian children – the creators of tomorrow and certainly not to be ignored – are enjoying the attention of Cultural Norway through a program initiated by the Ministry of Culture called “Operation Rucksack”
This program is designed to empower the cultural expression of young people – and to develop their own understanding of culture. This National Program is based in the core belief that children have the same right to access to culture as adults. For more information see the Ministry of Culture’s Cultural Rucksack.
The Norwegian Ministry of Culture is dedicated to stimulating a fertile cultural environment in Norway with one main objective being to facilitate diversity within cultural life that inevitably result in a varied and active cultural environment for all here in the country. Looking around in the cities and in the countryside, one can see quite clearly this cultural environment here. Come and see for yourself!