Parents: teacher Martin Arnold Haukeland (1891-1977) and piano teacher Lilly Karoline (“Lea”) Wallem (1896-1969). Married 6 Dec 1946 to photographer Randi Bothner (3 Mar 1921 – 5 Aug 2012), daughter of Supreme Court Lawyer Bjarne Bothner (1879-1933) and Sigrid Stoltz (1882-1970).
Arnold Haukeland’s extensive sculptural output is highly varied in terms of technique, materials, artistic methods and themes, but he is mainly remembered for his abstract monumental works. For nearly a decade, beginning in the early 1960’s, he was probably the most prominent and publicized figure in Norwegian sculpture. He created many innovative pieces and was a strong proponent of the idea that art should be a dynamic factor in society, reflecting the spirit of the times. A central figure in the occasionally heated debates concerning Norwegian art, he defended contemporary art – as well as his own works – with clear and direct arguments. As an artist, Haukeland was an important pioneer and role model for a number of Norwegian sculptors, particularly because of his polished stainless steel sculptures.
Haukeland was raised in a culturally-minded family in a middle class home in Sarpsborg. His mother was a piano teacher and his father was a central figure in the organization “Culture and memory,” which arranged exhibitions and concerts. However, few traces of Arnold Haukelands artistic activities have been preserved from this period. As a youth he was an aspiring athlete active in several sports. After he graduated from high school in 1930 with an exam in science, he began his studies in electrical engineering at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) in Trondheim. However, the studies proceeded slowly. He discovered he would much rather paint, draw, sculpt and read art history, as he wrote in March 1943. He received instruction in croquis and was inspired by the artist community in Trondheim; by the painter Oddvar Alstad in particular. His next step towards an art career took place when he studied sculpture at the Illegal Academy of Art in Oslo under Per Palle Storm and Stinius Fredriksen in the fall of 1944 and spring of 1945.
In September 1945, Haukeland quit his studies at NTH for good. Randi Bothner, who he had met in Oslo in March and posed as a model for him the same summer, supported his choice. After a recommendation from Stinius Fredriksen, a sculpture consultant in the Audit Committee for the reconstruction of Nidaros Cathedral, Haukeland was able test himself in the cathedral’s restoration studio. He succeeded with his first attempt. An erect allegorical female figure, “The Hope,” (Håpet) was accepted for the Western Front of the Cathedral. The work with the cathedral awakened Haukeland’s interest in gothic formal language. This experience is likely to have contributed to his penchant for sleek and ascending forms seen in some of his early works, as well as his ability to establish interaction between sculpture and architecture as equally valuable mediums.
With “The Hope” (Håpet) Haukeland made his first mark as an artist, and the Audit Committee rewarded him with a scholarship. He went to Paris in the spring of 1946, where he built sculptures at the private Academia de la Grande Chaumiere, most likely under the sculptor Raymonde Martin. His introduction to other French and French-related art was an equally important part of his development: Auguste Rodin’s free sculpting; Émile Antoine Bourdelles powerful volumes and rough surfaces; classic compositions by Charles Despiau, Jean Osouf, Aristide Maillol and the Danish Adam Fischer; and the broken, cubist forms by Ossip Zadkine and Jacques Lipchitz. The same year, Arnold Haukeland married Randi Bothner. She was his closest and most important supporter throughout his life and an excellent photographer of his works.
Arnold Haukeland’s first major artistic success came in 1947. As the youngest participant, he won an open competition for a “sculpture in honour of the fallen,” in Bærum with his draft “Freedom”. (Friheten) Virtually all of Norway’s sculptors took part, yet the jury found Haukeland’s idea to be the most original. “Freedom“ (Friheten)doesn’t display the traditional values of an equestrian monument such as power, clout and honour, nor does the rider demonstrate control over the horse. Instead, the rider is a symbol of freedom: a naked youth – the personification of peace and hope for the future. The monument is a massive, yet dynamic piece. It creates a powerful dialog with the mighty arches and walls of Bærum City Hall.
This commission in Bærum made it possible for the Haukeland family to move to a house and studio at Fjordvangen in Nesodden in 1948. It also enabled Haukeland to study abroad. The family visited Paris and several cities in Italy, where Haukeland studied classical equestrian statues from the antique and the Renaissance age. They also went to Copenhagen for his successful debut at the Autumn Exhibition. Among his exhibited works was “Icelandic woman” (Islandsk Kvinne) a sculpture with a powerful yet elegant shape. Its bold composition of a large, angular ponytail creates a horizontal counterweight to the rising forms in the neck, cranium and the forward-gazing eyes. It is one of his most beautiful works. Along with “Freedom” it shows his remarkable ability to find original solutions within established sculpture genres.
Arnold Haukeland’s career developed rapidly compared to other sculptors of his generation. Just two years after his studies at the Illegal Art Academy, he had earned enough income from his artistic activities to support himself and his family. In 1955, the family moved to a newly built villa with a studio and garden, in Valler, Bærum, where Haukeland lived for the rest of his life.
Haukeland continued to receive sculpture commissions throughout the 1950’s, like the sports monument “Ball Players” ( Ballspill gruppen) in Sarpsborg, This work displays stylistic features that were to occupy him for a long time: the expression of expansion and energy juxtaposed with gravity and weight. Sculptures in smaller formats, like “The Bull Claes” ( Oksen Claes) are equally important. This sculpture was designed as a caricatured “portrait ” of the actor and writer Claes Gill, after a minor clash between the two of them after a night out. The figure, a huge ox, is arranged in a compact volume with the weight concentrated in the chest, neck and back, while the legs and genitalia are merely etched in clay. The curved, raw and rough surface contributes to the impression of movement, and can be seen as a characteristic modern art reference to the work’s origins. The sensitive surface also reveals fascination for contemporary Italian sculptors, such as Marino Marini.
From this point onwards Haukelands interest in modern art grew. He was inspired by frequent trips abroad (mostly to Denmark, France and Italy), by reading articles and books on contemporary art (where the illustrations also influenced his own work), and by friends like Jakob Weidemann, Ludvig Eikaas and Gunnar S. Gundersen in Oslo’s artistic community. The support he received from a number of critics and art historians, among them Erik Egeland, Paal Hougen and Ole Henrik Moe and philosopher Arild Haaland, was also very important.
Some of Haukelands ‘s works from the late 1950s displayed modernist stylistic features, but it was only after a trip to Greece and Italy in the spring and summer of 1960 (sponsored by a grant from the Visual Artists’ Board) that he really began to pursue it seriously. While he felt distanced to the ancient art, he was full of enthusiasm for the newer sculptures at the Venice Biennale. In Venice he was inspired by both the geometric stringent work of Berto Lardera and the expressive compositions by Luciano Minguzzi.
Arnold Haukeland presented his newer work in a joint exhibition with Jacob Weidemann at the Artist’s House (Kunstnernes Hus) in Oslo in April 1961. The exhibition was later considered to be the breakthrough of modernism in Norway. It was a huge success for both of them. In particular, it led to several major commissions for Haukeland. In Oslo, “Air” was erected at the University of Oslo’s Blindern campus in 1962. It was the first abstract monumental sculpture in the country, followed by “Dynamics” ( Dynamikk) in 1966. In Storedal in Skjeberg, the sound sculpture “Ode to the light” ( Ode til lyset) was erected. It was a rather unique sculpture in an international context; it was conducted in collaboration with the composer Arne Nordheim. These pieces are considered to be major works of Norwegian sculpture and can be interpreted as a celebration of life expressed by expanding forms that reach out into space. Sunlight plays on the polished, stainless steel, transforming heavy metal is into its weightless, floating opposite.
All the while Haukeland never let go of traditional working methods. He would continue to produce portraits and naturalistic human figures throughout his life. His work spanned considerable stylistic variety, particularly his portraits. He would depict dense volumes with smooth and tight surfaces (eg. portrait of Ragnvald Skrede); naturalistic forms (eg. portrait of Magnus Poulsson); and rough, expressive sculpting (eg. portrait of Sigval Bergesen Jr.)
Haukeland carried out much of the work on his monumental sculptures singlehandedly, which eventually took a toll on his health. In September of 1968, he suffered acute pancreatitis induced by stress and excessive alcohol consumption. He hovered between life and death for 9 days. After he recovered, he sought to work in peace with new influences. In the summer of 1969, the family rented a house on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, which they later bought. During the winter months for the next few years, Haukeland created small sculptures that showed completely new sides to him artistically. Some of them are playful representations reminiscent of exotic plants and creatures. They were painted in bright colours, often with surreal touches, like “The Night Bird.” ( Nattens fugl) Others seem almost autobiographical, like “Pankratos,” where thin wires bristle up and out from the curved shapes (the pancreas?) as painful spikes or tense nerves.
At this time, Arnold Haukeland was at the height of his career with solo exhibitions at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in 1970 (again with Weidemann), the Biennale in Venice, and the 1972 exhibition at Bergen International Festival. New monumental works were completed, among them “Solskulptur” (Sun sculpture), whose form can be seen as a new expression of life force, perhaps even the sculptor’s own. (The work was completed shortly after his recovery in 1969.) The press and the media presented him as the largest figure in Norwegian contemporary sculpture, but some critical voices also arose. In a debate, “Solskulptur” was characterized as aggressive and a violation of the natural environment of Solviken in Høvikodden.
Haukeland himself remained silent in this debate, though his sculptures, like “Red Wind”, ( Rød vind) perhaps provide his answer. Out of a box-shaped base, thin and rickety iron straps arise and bend towards each other in untidy kinks and loops. The sculpture was created in Tenerife after a dry wind from the Sahara had dried out vegetation the island. There is a something raw, forlorn and vulnerable about this strange and almost anti-sculptural world. The threatening decay is only offset by the compositions powerful red. In 1978, this was completely nouvelle for a public sculpture in Norway and gave rise to an intense debate in the Bergen newspapers, though one quite different from the discussions at the beginning of the decade.
From the 1970s until his death, Haukeland was in more demand than ever. Several new public sculptures and monuments were completed. He was invited to the Autumn Exhibition in Oslo 1973, and to the Autumn Exhibition at Charlottenborg in Copenhagen 1981. In 1979 he attended the Middelheim Biennale in Antwerp, where his works were purchased by the museum. 1980 included solo shows in Oslo and Høvikodden.
However, health problems also affected the later years of Arnold Haukeland’s life. This was partly due to his alcohol consumption – after the pancreatic inflammation he developed diabetes. In 1979 he was also treated for prostate cancer. The same year, he found a huge boulder to compose “Daumannen from Rakkebåene” – an upright, primitive figure with jagged shapes, a crooked stone face, and big, staring eyes. This is his memento mori. It was real enough. After yet another operation in December 1981, the cancer spread to his bones and could not be stopped.
Arnold Haukeland was the director of the Norwegian Sculptor Association from 1958 to 1959 and of the Visual Artists’ Board from 1976 to 1979. He was appointed a Knight of 1 Class of the Order of St. Olav in 1983, and in 1970 he received the Swedish Prince Eugene Medal.