The assignment was given to the renowned artist Knut Steen, and for six years he worked with this statue from his residence in Pietra Santa, Italy. On 6 July 2007, it was supposed to be unveiled next to Oslo City Hall.
During its arrival from Italy, the statue created a big debate in Norway. Associations against dictatorship and communism dominated this debate, as the King’s right hand was exalted, just like an ancient Roman salute. This did not reflect the Norwegians’ memories of the ‘People’s King’. King Olav became a widower and was Norway’s monarch from 1957 to 1991. He was known as ‘down-to-earth’ – the King who took the tram during the oil crisis in the 1970s and participated in Olympic Games.
The 7.5 meter high statue was severely criticized for presenting King Olav more like a dictator than a ‘People’s King’, as he stands with his right hand raised.
Many Norwegian municipalities were interested in acquiring the statue after Oslo City Council turned their thumbs down for the artwork. It was, however, fish breeder John Braanaas who bought the statue for 2 million kroner (about 250.000 dollars) after the sculptor in March 2007 had been visiting Gulen municipality.
The statue is now erected on the highest point on the Skjerjehamn island.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Photo: Dan Young