Frans Widerberg

1934 – 1956


Franz Gustav Widerberg is born in Oslo, Norway, on the 8 April, the son of stone mason Nicolai Magnus Widerberg (1905 – 1960), and Ingrid Christine Blom (1909 - 1983) an architectural assistant.



9 April aged 6, Nazi occupation of Oslo.


1943 - 1945

Escapes to Sweden overnight with his father, mother and sister Else Margrethe .

Returns to Oslo at the end of the war.


1951 - 1952

Determines to become an artist at an early age.

Begins his art training with the critic Birger Moss Johnsen (1988 - 1963), a relative of his mother.


1953 - 1955
Studio assistant to the Norwegian sculptor, Wilhelm Rasmussen (1871 – 1965).

His application to the National Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo, is unsuccessful, but he is accepted at the National College of Art, Craft and Design in Oslo where he studies book design under Ivar Bell. He is also taught graphic techniques including woodcut, linocut, engraving, etching, lithography and silkscreen printing.


A confirmed pacifist and conscientious objector he refuses to do military service and is sentenced to two years fatigue duty near Bergen.



Spends four months in London at Goldsmiths College, University of London. There, he sees Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Waiting for Godot’ which premiered in London that year. He also explores the art of Turner and William Blake, John Martin and Francis Bacon. “Blake, that transcendent traveller, and of course Turner – although the full force of his vision didn’t hit me until later. I remember all those strange apocalyptic landscapes of John Martin; Stanley Spencer – and Lucian Freud, and the portraits of Augustus John, some of Jacob Epstein’s pieces and Bacon …”.



Starts working as a student teacher at Studieatelieret in Bergen. Spends six months studying under Povl Christensen (1907 – 1977), the Danish master of traditional fine grain woodcut technique, who taught at the College of Art, Craft and Design in Bergen. Here he receives excellent schooling in one of the most specialised fields in illustrative printmaking.


At that time, Widerberg and his contemporaries were discussing Søren Kierkegaard’s early existentialist ideas; they also read Goethe, Sartre and Camus and for a time Colin Wilson’s (1931 – 2013) The Outsider, had a cult following. Strindberg’s diaries and the psychologically charged works of Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881), Hamson (1859 – 1952), Swedenborg (1688 – 1772), Nietzche (1844 – 1900) and Pår Lagerkvist (1891 – 1974) were also read.


2018 © Thomas Widerberg & Mara Helen Wood



Frans Widerberg