Neve Og Rose (Fist And Rose): The Controversial Sculpture By Ola Enstad

Of all the interpretations of the symbolic image of the Social Democratic movement — a rose clutched in a fist — this sculpture is my favorite!

The “Fist and Rose” is a most meaningful sculpture, reminding that one must be strong and forceful while pursuing and obtaining the beauty of a more egalitarian society, while enduring the painful elements of such beauty implied by the thorns cutting into the closed hand — nothing is perfectly beautiful without fault and nothing worthwhile is obtained without effort and endurance.

The sculpture was intended simply to be a simple piece of public art, but the sculpture itself became a political issue as most Social-Democratic parties worldwide (minus the U.S. where the movement has no counterpart) claim the fist and rose as their political symbol.

Here’s the controversy. The city of Asker (just outside of Oslo) hired the artist Ola Enstad to create a sculpture. When they saw the cast, they decided it was too political and broke the contract. Ola retorted: “Hey you! My intent is purely artistic!”

But the City of Asker would not have it, and told the artist that they would pay him, but not have the sculpture. Public meetings ensued, and Norwegian artists protested that if Asker did not accept the sculpture, they would en mass boycott Asker. Lawyers lined up with their pens.

The solution came when the Trade Union for Metalworkers celebrated their 100 year anniversary and sought to purchase the sculpture. The Oslo City Council agreed and said: “The sculpture is very well done, and will enhance the site and give it a significant character”.

Thus, from 1990, the “Fist and Rose” rest on Lilletorvet in Oslo, in front of the trade union’s headquarters. 4.8 meter high, the arm is made of bronze and the rose of steal. The arm is breaking its way up from the ground and separating the sidewalk cobbles.

It reminds me of the power in united people fighting for justice in a non-violence way.

I love it! Power to the people!

3 responses to “Neve Og Rose (Fist And Rose): The Controversial Sculpture By Ola Enstad

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