Knut Skinnarland – the
-A brilliant artist, an impassioned and warm person. This is how the sculptor Knut Skinnarland (1909–1993), the creator of the Sondre statue, is described by friends, colleagues and people who had the good fortune to know him.
Knut Skinnarland was born in Rauland,
Telemark January 15, 1909. He came from a family of craftsmen and artists.
The internationally known author Tarjei Vesaas was one of his close
relatives and best friends.
While at the Copenhagen
academy, Knut met Danish Tove, who later said, “The very first time I met
Knut, I knew he was the finest man I’d ever met.”
Knut participated along with other
artists in a 17 year restoration of the famous Nidarosdomen Cathedral in
Trondheim. During the 50’s and 60’s he made about 30 sculptures at this
majestic cathedral. For this work he received “Nidarosdomen Gold Medal”.
In 1988 he was awarded The Kings Decoration, given for meritorious services for his contribution to Norwegian culture, and the Cultural Award from the municipality of Vinje. Knut Skinnarland has also received the Cultural Award from the county of Telemark.
His friends describe him as a hard working artist, professional, serious and modest. Norwegian chairwoman for the Sondre Norheim Statue committee, Ragnhild Hagen describes, “Knut enriched the lives of his many Norwegian and American friends with fond memories. He also loved lyrics, literature and enjoyed folk music. Though he was quiet and soft spoken, what he said was always honest and well thought through. He made enormous demands on himself as an artist.”
Knut was the clear choice when the
creation of a statue of Sondre was planned. As a matter of fact, Knut had
already been thinking of just such a statue – in 1977 he had a plaster
figure ready which became the basis for the monument. The draft was made
on the initiative of a
“I wondered what kind of impression I should give the statue of Sondre”, Knut said. “Should I make him steeping down the hills, or should it be an abstract monument maybe? All I had to refer to was all the stories about Sondre and a picture of him at age 59, taking in America.”
Finally Knut decided to make Sondre monumental standing with his skis by his side. That’s the way it had to be.
In 1987 this monument was finished and on October 16 it was dedicated in Minot, North Dakota. Exactly three months later an identical statue was unveiled in Morgedal by HM King Olav.
The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) produced a three-part TV series about the creation of the Sondre statue. Directed by Johan Vestly, the TV team followed Knut during his work at his atelier in Rauland and also when the statue in Minot was dedicated.
Some years later Knut Skinnarland
created another Sondre sculpture – the
much smaller “Upptrekkjaren” (“The drawn-up style jumper”) or “Vesle
Sondre” (“Little Sondre”). The sculpture depicts Sondre in a spectacular
jump, using the typical Sondre “drawn-up” style.
© 2002-2012 by Anne-Gry Blikom and Eivind Molde