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Culture & People
 
 
 

General

Norwegian culture should be understood in the context of Norwegian history as well as Norwegian geography. The unique Norwegian farm culture resulted not only from scarce resources and a harsh climate, but also from Norway's ancient property laws, which sustained a unique character still visible in Norway today. This unique character resulted in a strong romantic nationalistic movement in the 18th century which is visible to this day in the Norwegian language and media. Norwegian culture is very egalitarian, and this has both positive and negative effects.

Architecture

From its origins about 9,000 years ago to the present, the architecture of Norway has evolved in response to shifting economic conditions, technological advances, demographic fluctuations and cultural shifts. While outside architectural influences are apparent in much of Norwegian architecture, they have often been adapted to meet Norwegian climatic conditions, including: harsh winters, high winds and, in coastal areas, salt spray.

Norway's architectural trends are also seen to parallel political and societal changes in Norway over the centuries. Prior to the Viking Age, wooden structures developed into a sophisticated craft evident in the elegant and effective construction of the Viking long ships. Following that, the ascent of Christianity introduced Romanesque architecture in cathedrals and churches, with characteristically slightly pointed arches, barrel vaults, cruciform piers supporting vaults, and groin vaults; in large part as a result of religions influence from England.

During the Middle Ages, the geography dictated a dispersed economy and population. As a result, the traditional Norwegian farm culture remained strong, and Norway differed from most European countries in never adopting feudalism. This, combined with the ready availability of wood as a building material, ensured that relatively few examples of the Baroque, Renaissance, and Rococo architecture styles so often built by the ruling classes elsewhere in Europe, were constructed in Norway.

Instead, these factors resulted in distinctive traditions in Norwegian vernacular architecture, which have been preserved in existing farms in the many Norwegian open-air museums that showcase buildings from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century; prominent examples include the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo and Maihaugen in Lillehammer, as well as extant buildings still in service on farms such as those in the Heidal valley.

In the 20th century, Norwegian architecture has been characterised by its connection with Norwegian social policy on the one hand, and innovation on the other. Norwegian architects have been recognised for their work, both within Norway – where architecture has been considered an expression of social policy – and outside Norway, in several innovative projects.

Art

Expressionist painter Edvard Munch is the most famous Norwegian artist in a long artistic tradition that includes modernists such as Gunnar S. Gundersen and romantic-period painters such as Adolph Tidemand, Hans Gude, and J.C. Dahl.

Literature

Norwegian literature is literature composed in Norway or by Norwegian people. The history of Norwegian literature starts with the pagan Eddaic poems and skaldic verse of the 9th and 10th centuries with poets such as Bragi Boddason and Eyvindr Skáldaspillir. The arrival of Christianity around the year 1000 brought Norway into contact with European medieval learning, hagiography and history writing. Merged with native oral tradition and Icelandic influence this was to flower into an active period of literature production in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Major works of that period include Historia Norwegie, Thidreks saga and Konungs skuggsjá.


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