Although the majority of the tourist sites are in Bryggen, the city also has a number of other lovely areas. The area east of Bryggen contains a number of lovely, well-maintained historic buildings, the homes crawling up the northern mountainside make for a lovely view and city center is modern, if sterile. The cathedral, Lake Lungegardsvana is charming and well utilized.
Among the most notable of the city’s other tourist sights are:
- Fish Market, a line of open-air stalls displaying all types of fresh fish, several varieties of smoked salmon and a broad range of local shellfish. We were especially intrigued by the king crab legs and stone crab claws that are cracked upon order and can be eaten in a large tented seating area behind the stalls or taken away to eat elsewhere. Across from the fish market are a handful of additional fruit and vegetables and several others that sell local sausage—especially reindeer, moose and whale.
- Kode Museums of Art, a series of four buildings (one of which is currently closed for renovations) that showcase Norwegian art from the 15th century to the present, with a particular focus on the 18th through early 20th centuries, the so-called Golden Age of Norwegian Art. The currently open buildings are divided three categories:
- Traditional art, from 1400 through 1900. After an overview of traditional European art that inspired many early Norwegian artists, this building provide an overview of a wide range of traditional art, with a focus on landscapes and art that portrays peasant life. It is particularly strong in the work of J.C. Dahl, who is considered the father of Norwegian art. It showed the influence that French realistic art of the 19th century had on Norwegian artists and especially the role that European masters including Picasso, Braque, Klee, Miro and especially Munch had on 20th century Norwegian artists as well as occasional forays into surrealism and op art. The traditional building also had an interesting display of the work of early 20th century Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup, who combined academic training and a modernist perspective with a “child’s view of nature” to create a new vision of landscape painting and increasingly incorporated folkloric concepts into his landscape paintings.
- Golden Age Art, from 1800 to 1900. This building, which has a particularly large collection of Edvard Munch oils and prints is, not surprisingly, the highlight of the museum’s collection. The era began with the popularity of history paintings and evolved in to the idealized, romantic landscapes of J.C. Dahl and others. There is a nice selection of his era’s well-executed decorative arts and a mural room (also romantic landscape) by Mathias Blumenthal. The emergence of modernism began in the late 1800s as artists including “The Big Three” of Eric Warenskroid, Christian Krohg and Harriet Backer returned from Paris with more of a Plein Air and neo-Impressionistic styles and influenced an entire generation of Norwegian artists (including Munch) through their teaching. Munch, as many landmark artists, began by perfecting his technical skills with realistic works, before using abstraction and colors to express the dark moods and psychological trauma for which he became famous and, as discussed in our recent post on New York’s Neue Gallerie exhibit, he so influenced the direction of German Abstract Expressionists with both his painting and with his pioneering print-making (especially woodblock) techniques. This exhibit, however, also discussed how Munch experienced a nervous breakdown later in his career and how his therapy led him to explore brighter, more life-affirming themes. Overall, a revelatory (at least for us) portrayal of the evolution of this influential artist’s work.
- Contemporary Art. These exhibits focused primarily on the “visual music” of Armot and wall-sized multi-color, horizontally-banded panels of Fredrik Vaerslev.
Our next blog discusses several interesting sights outside the city center.