1957 – 1963
He re-applies and is accepted at the National Academy of Fine Art in Oslo, where he studies under the Russian painter Professor Alexander Schultz (1901 – 1981), who is described as being encouraging rather than having a deep influence. Schultz recommends that Widerberg should travel to Italy “to find himself”. He receives a grant of 2,000 Norwegian Crowns. In the autumn, he travels to Florence and spends what are arguably the most important months of his student years. The impact of Giotto was enormous, but Masaccio’s Expulsion from Paradise at the Brancacci Chapel would continue to be of inspiration decades later.
Marries Aasa Brække, a fellow student at the Academy. Their son Nicolaus is born. Travels to Italy with Aasa and Nico.
Collaborates with the poet and writer André Bjerke (1918 – 1984) on the cover design for the poet’s book of short stories titled The Unicorn.
Widerberg makes his artistic debut in the group exhibition at Holst Halvorsen’s Gallery in Oslo, along with Eilif Amundsen, Niclas Gulbrandsen, Finn Schmidt-Melbye, Svein Strand, Johannes Vinjum. His paintings Night Landscape 1963 and Landscape from Torvø 1963, were not well received by the critics, but they recognised that he had talent. The six artists represented were criticised for being old fashioned and reactionary, as opposed to following the dominating abstract and critical modernism which was prevalent at that time.
The opening of the Munch Museum in Oslo that year might be seen symbolically as an inspiration for Widerberg and his fellow artists. Other figurative modernists who inspired him include Bjarne Ness (1902 – 1927), Pierre Bonnard, Giorgio Morandi, Marino Marini and Alberto Giacometti, as well as the Norwegian artist Lars Hertervig (1830 – 1902), who Widerberg recalls “gave me the blue - and also a beautiful orange …”.
At the Norwegian Autumn Salon in Oslo and the Young Artists Association he exhibits paintings, watercolours, drawings, etchings and woodcuts. The National Gallery and Riiks Gallery purchase woodcuts for their respective collections.
Produces a series of woodcuts illustrating André Bjerke’s translation of Oscar Wilde’s one-act play Salomé. Widerberg had read Wilde extensively in his late teens.
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