We have selected 11 works from KORO’s vast art collection that together form an excellent itinerary for a walking tour of Oslo.
With a few exceptions, all the artworks produced under KORO’s auspices are publicly accessible. But not all of them are conveniently situated for viewing during a walking tour around different neighbourhoods. We have selected 11 works that will take you on a short walking tour of Oslo and also provide insight into different types of artistic expression. At each location you can click on the interactive map to read more about the artwork at that location. You may have walked past some of these works previously, perhaps just once or even every day, without thinking very much about them. With KORO’s Oslo guide you can choose to let the art speak for itself, or you can click on the interactive map and read a short informative text about the work. You also have the opportunity to proceed to KORO’s project pages and read a more detailed text and view additional images.
Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
Oslo Opera House, which overlooks Oslo Fjord, may seem reminiscent of an iceberg rising steeply from the water’s edge. Eight art projects were realised in connection with the construction of the opera house. Perhaps the most ambitious – the enormous marble surface that forms the façade and roof of the building – was created by architecture firm Snøhetta and artists Jorunn Sannes, Kalle Grude and Kristian Blystad. Consisting of 33,000 marble slabs, the character of this complex jigsaw puzzle changes according to the time of day, and will also evolve over the course of time as the marble is exposed to the elements. A sculpture by Monica Bonvicini entitled She lies floats in the harbour basin outside the opera house. A 3D interpretation of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Das Eismeer/The Sea of Ice (1823-24), She lies is an open structure fabricated from stainless steel and partially covered by reflective and transparent angled surfaces. A prominent feature of the opera house’s foyer is Olafur Eliasson’s installation The other wall, which consists of a series of perforated white and green illuminated panels.
Click here for more information about art at Oslo Opera House. Address: Oslo Opera House, Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1
Stumbling Stones (Snublesteiner)
The German artist Gunter Demnig wanted to call attention to the victims of Nazism by memorializing the places where they lived before they were killed. Since 1993, Demnig has installed 48,000 small memorial plaques into pavements in 18 European countries through his project Stolpersteine (which is German for “stumbling stones”). On 30 August 2010, Demnig installed the first 19 stumbling stones in Norway, in the pavement outside no. 15, Calmeyers Gate in Oslo. Of the 28 tenants living at this address in 1942, 19 were deported and killed during the deportation of the Jews in the autumn of that year. A stone was also installed in memory of Ruth Maier outside the former girls’ and young women’s hostel (Engelhjemmet) at no. 3, Dalbergstien. Pedestrians who stop to examine the stones realize that Nazi atrocities were committed not only in generic locations, but also in their own neighbourhoods. These discreet markers are reminders that the people who died were ordinary people whose homes were on that street: mothers, fathers, teenagers and young children.
Click here for more information about the project. Address: Calmeyers gate 15
Dette er et fint sted/This is a good place
The memorial park known as Dette er et fint sted/This is a good place lies close to Carl Berners Plass. The artist Victor Lind instigated the creation of the park in 2008. The park enjoys beautiful views over the whole city and across the site formerly occupied by Rolf Syversen’s market garden. Syversen was involved in a major refugee-smuggling operation during World War II. Under the code name Carl Fredriksens Transport, approximately 1,000 people, of whom half were Jews, were helped to cross the border into Sweden. The park, which was created in collaboration with the architecture firm Snøhetta, is a reminder that ordinary people put their own lives at risk in order to help others during the war. A stone bearing a simple inscription has been set into the ground outside the site of the market garden.
Click here for more information about the project. Address: Hasleveien/Hekkveien
Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
To mark the relocation of the departments of visual art and design in 2010 to the Seilduksgata campus, artists Camilla Løw and Gardar Eide Einarsson each created striking works for the academy. Einarsson’s work This Is It spells out this message in large black capital letters, outlined in neon, on one of the academy’s roofs. The work is based on a scenic decoration intended for a Michael Jackson tour that was cancelled due to the singer’s death. The words This Is It provoke curiosity when placed in an everyday urban setting. The viewer almost wants to add: Is that all there is? Camilla Løw’s work Dynamic Duo consists of two parallel sculptures fabricated from enamelled steel that can also be interpreted as a single work. The sculptures were created for a large terrace area next to steps leading up from the Akerselva River to the main entrance to the academy. The steps are a popular place for students and staff to hang out when taking a break from work. Løw was particularly eager for onlookers to be able to view the sculptures from many different angles.
Click here for more information about the project. Adress: Fossveien 24
Oslo School of Architecture and Design
This sculpture is currently under restoration. It will be back in place on the 5th of July.
A stranded spaceship, a futuristic ruin or a gigantic insect: whatever Knut Åsdam’s glistening black sculpture outside the Oslo School of Architecture and Design reminds you of, you are welcome to sit on it.
Knut Åsdam is one of the most internationally renowned Norwegian artists of his generation. In 2001, he was commissioned to create an artwork for the new premises of the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. The result was the sculpture “Recombinant Place: Cloaked Mirror Body”. With its glossy black surface, the sculpture has become a familiar feature of this area of the city. Its location, on the very edge of the school’s campus on Maridalsveien, is adjacent to the large areas of parkland surrounding the school, which neighours both the Akerselva River and Kuba Park.
Click here for more information about the project. Adress: Maridalsveien 79
Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus
Pilestredet outside Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. While the figure may appear almost morbidly obese, it may also appear “normal” in the sense that many people today are unhealthily overweight. The sculpture encourages the onlooker to reflect on themes that are highly relevant to nursing studies, such as the vulnerability and imperfection of the human body and its potential need for dignified nursing care in order to maintain quality of life and relieve pain and suffering.
Late one night after the sculpture was installed, a taxi passenger called the police in the belief that a naked man was lying helpless on the ground outside the college.
Click here for more information about the project. Address: Pilestredet 32
Nationaltheatret Station lies at the foot of Slottsparken in central Oslo. An important work created for the newest section of the station consists of two 250-metre-long friezes by Anne-Karin Furunes. The friezes were produced by perforating bitmap images into 332 stainless-steel panels. The panels are now installed on both sides of the station hall, 25 metres underground. Users of the western station entrance, accessed from Drammensveien or Parkveien, encounter a colourful work by Terje Roalkvam: 69 steel panels with geometric vitreous-enamel designs line the walkway down to the old platform. The same shapes are repeated in the walkway down to the new platform, this time screenprinted and sandblasted onto a series of glass surfaces. The western station entrance was awarded the Houen Foundation Prize 2015. A small sculpture purchased in 1979, Hel form [Entire shape] by Erwin Løffler, stands in the station vestibule. The station also features several other artworks dating both from the original construction of the station in 1980 and from the expansion in 1999. The works include wall reliefs by Bård Breivik and Ola Enstad that are integrated into one of the walls of the vestibule.
Click here for more information about the project. Address: Ruseløkkveien 1
Lars Ramberg Liberté
Lying right at the heart of Oslo between Karl Johans Gate and Stortingsgata, Eidsvolls Plass is a park and square that is better known to many Norwegians as Spikersuppa (literally “nail soup” – a nickname derived from the fact that the construction of the central pond was funded by a nail factory). On one side of the square, right opposite Oslo City Hall, are the three toilets painted red, white and blue that together form Lars Ramberg’s artwork Liberté. The three authentic French automated public toilets dating from 1979 were designed by JCDecaux and adapted for the purposes of Ramberg’s installation. Sound systems installed inside the toilets play recordings of speeches from World War II by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and King Haakon. The installation is intended to encourage passers-by, and users, to reflect on issues that are topical in society today, such as national identity, independence and democracy. The installation was proposed originally by Ramberg in connection with a competition to mark the 2005 centenary of the ending of the Union between Norway and Sweden. A heated debate followed the rejection of Ramberg’s proposal, and the toilets were subsequently installed in new locations and returned to storage several times before a permanent site was finally identified at Eidsvolls Plass.
Click here for more information about the project. Address: Eidsvolls plass
Oslo Courthouse (Oslo tinghus)
The monumental granite facade of Oslo Courthouse is interrupted by 24 projecting bosses of white Fauske marble, created by the artist Øyvind Åstein. Aiming to create a project that was sculptural, figurative, and allusive, Åstein presents a series of rebuses (a type of visual puzzle) that can be read diagonally, horizontally or vertically. The motifs – for example, a chess piece, an ancient Greek athlete, and the face of an ancient Egyptian woman – refer indirectly to the business conducted inside the Courthouse. Once inside the main entrance, one immediately encounters sculptor Ole Lislerud’s Lex portalis/The Gateway to the Law. Comprising two narrow walls extending 32 metres upwards, the sculpture reaches right up to the eighth floor. Up to the level of the fifth floor, the sculpture’s surfaces are covered with dark porcelain panels on which the artist has written sections of the Norwegian Constitution, the Criminal Procedure Act and the legal code introduced by Magnus the Law-mender in 1274. Lislerud’s work highlights the foundations on which Norwegian society is built. The sombre colour of the porcelain tablets on which the Constitution is written is intended to convey the seriousness of what happens within the building. Most of the texts on the tablets are in mirror writing, which is intended to symbolize the inherent difficulty of interpreting the law. Approximately five per cent of the texts are not reversed, the idea being that someone looking closely at the work will discover this and find that exploration of the artwork is a task that can never be completed.
Click here for more information about the project. Address: C.J. Hambros plass 4
Government Building 6 (R6)
The government buildings in central Oslo are home to many artworks created under the auspices of KORO. The majority of these artworks are indoors. One project that is more easily accessible, however, lies outside the main entrance to Government Building 6 (R6), on the corner of Munchs Gate and Teatergata. This project is Grass Root People by the South Korean artist Do Ho Suh. From a distance, the work resembles squares of grass, but on closer inspection the “grass” turns out to be tens of thousands of tiny green-patinated bronze figures positioned under and between paving slabs on the plaza outside the building. The figures have different ages, ethnicities and genders, while at the same time forming part of a powerful and united mass. The work includes a red oak tree that provides shade on warm summer days.
Relocating the past: Ruins for the Future
Traces still exist of the car bomb that exploded in Oslo’s Government Quarter during the terror attacks of 22 July 2011. The attacks killed 77 people, of whom eight died in the bomb blast in the Government Quarter and 69 died in shootings at the summer camp run by the Labour Party’s youth league at Utøya. The bomb also caused severe damage to a number of government buildings, and windows in many surrounding buildings were shattered. The shockwave from the bomb also damaged the newspaper display cases outside the offices of Norwegian tabloid VG at no. 55, Akersgata, leaving the glass windows of the cases crackled but intact. A campaign to preserve the cases was instigated by Ahmad Ghossein. Ghossein wished the cases to serve as a silent reminder of the attacks. One display case, which is now titled Relocating the Past: Ruins for the Future, is currently in a temporary location at the bus stop opposite VG’s offices.