Agora Design Partnership | Design for Public Parks & Spaces

St. Olaf of Norway

  • 18″ x 5″ x 3″ and Larger version, 10 feet high
  • Collection of the artist
  • Bronze sculpture
  • Year completed: 1988
  • Executed after design motif of Alberto Giacometti.

St. Olaf was a Viking, king and warrior. After a time, his subjects rebelled, not only because of his religion, but because of his unflinching desire to unify the country. Following a two-year exile, he was killed in the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.

It is St. Olaf’s thoughtfulness, stoicism, and steadfastness in following his ideals that are portrayed in this piece.

Sculptor Richard Light was born in a small town in Western Michigan, an area of heavy snows and long winters. He graduated from Yale University in with a degree in Art History and English Literature. He later studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While there, he developed an interest in modern sculpture, especially that of Alberto Giacometti and Constatin Brancusi. In particular, the long, lean figures, reflective of the mountains and winters of Giacometti’s birthplace in the Swiss mountains, resonated deeply.

During his sculpture studies, Light began to work with similar modernistic abstractions. His goal was to use these abstract idioms to portray humanity without visually losing the human form.

After art school, Light traveled to Norway several times in the 1990s. While there, he admired not only the Norwegian culture, but also the sculpture of Gustav Vigeland. He became intimately acquainted with Frogner Park and with Vigeland’s work. He especially liked the intensity and visceral quality of Vigeland’s figures.

At that point, using his training at the School of the Art Institute, he decided to combine the aesthetic qualities of Giacometti and Brancusi with the more intense facial features and anatomy found in Vigeland. The result was Saint Olaf, a three-meter-high bronze depicting Olaf Haraldsson, the 11th century Norwegian hero and saint.