Born on 11 April in Mandal, Southern Norway, the second oldest of four siblings. Explored his creative talent from an early age in his father’s carpentry workshop.
Came to Kristiania (Oslo) at the age of 15 to work as an apprentice for woodcarver Torsten K. Fladmoe. Remained in the capital for 1,5 years.
Returned home to Mandal, where his ailing father died shortly after from tuberculosis. Studied diligently everything from illustrated exhibition catalogues to anatomy books.
Returned to the capital after two years in Southern Norway and finally pursued his ambition to become a sculptor.
Worked in the studio of Brynjulf Bergslien (1830–90) and followed courses by Mathias Skeibrok (1851–96) at the Royal School of Drawing. Made his debut at the Annual Autumn Exhibition with Hagar and Ismael.
First study trip, to Copenhagen, which lasted for almost a year. Was given a place to work in the studio of Vilhelm Bissen (1836–1913). Viewed contemporary French sculpture at Glyptoteket, and modelled his first major work, Accursed. First trip to Paris (January–June) where he visited Rodin’s studio.
Opened his first solo exhibition in October.
«He is young. Let us pay attention to him, and let us not make his talent unjust. He has ventured more than anyone before him.» — Jens Thiis, 1894
Travelled to Berlin and Florence. In Berlin, he frequented the artist circles which included figures such as Edvard Munch, Stanisław Przybyszewski, Julius Meier-Graefe, Richard Dehmel, Count Harry Kessler and Jens Thiis. In Florence, Vigeland was inspired by the art of antiquity and the Renaissance.
In desperate lack of an income, Vigeland accepted his first commission for the sculptural decoration of the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. All together he modelled 44 sculptures for the Cathedral in the period 1898–1902, and spent several periods working on site in Trondheim.
Arranged his second and last solo exhibition in Kristiania, which received glowing reviews and underscored his position as one of Norway’s leading sculptors. His daughter Else was born. The child’s mother was Laura Mathilde Andersen, with whom he started a relationship with in 1894 when she stood as a model for Hell. In 1901 she gave birth to a son, Gustav.
Met 16-year-old Inga Syvertsen, who was to become his girlfriend and assistant for the next 20 years. Spent one year in France and England where he studied Gothic architecture. In January 1901 he was awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Knight of First Class.
Participated with six sculptures at the Nordic Art Exhibition in Keiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld. Took over an old studio at Hammersborg in Kristiania, owned by the City. Moved from Pilestredet to an apartment in Fredensborgveien 1 in October. Inga Syvertsen, who was now 19, moved in with him, officially as his housekeeper.
Participated in the exhibition Entwicklung des Impressionismus in Malerei u. Plastik in Vienna as the only artist from Norway.
Exhibited his model of the Fountain in Kristiania. The exhibition was a tremendous success, with some 30.000 visitors. His Fountain also received international attention.
A resolution was passed to commission the Fountain for Eidsvoll Square in front of the Parliament.
The Abel Monument was unveiled in the Palace Park – Vigeland’s definitive breakthrough as a sculptor.
Participated, together with Edvard Munch, in Kunstnernes Efteraarsudstilling (Artists’ Autumn Exhibition) in Charlottenborg in Copenhagen, and the two were presented as ‘the two great’ Norwegian contemporary artists.
The Beggars was exhibited in the Universal Exhibition in Brussels. The painter Halfdan Strøm reported that Vigeland’s group received a great deal of attention, not least among artists.
Exhibited about 30 sculptures in the National Gallery, both new and old. Critics detected a change of style in his new works. Ordered photographs of sculptures by Aristide Maillol and Henri Matisse. Curtailed both his travels and his exhibiting activities after 1912.
Signed a contract with the City of Kristiania, which assumed ownership of all of his artwork in exchange for giving him a studio that would serve as a museum after his death. Breakup with Inga Syvertsen.
Married Ingrid Vilberg
The City approved the proposal to place The Fountain in Frogner and he devoted the remainder of his life to the sculpture park. He modelled The Monolith in clay in 1924–25. In 1929 the work of carving the 121 figures on the 17-metre-high column began. It would take three stone carvers 13 years to complete the task.
Received the Grand Cross of the Order of St Olav ‘for his masterpieces as a sculptor’.
Contracted a heart infection in January and was admitted to Lovisenberg Hospital, where he died on 12 March.
The studio in Frogner opened as a museum. The collection contains around 1,600 sculptures, 12,000 drawings and 420 woodcuts. In addition the museum manages several thousand letters, notebooks, photographs and about 5,000 books.