Norway’s cultural world lost two well-known artists during the Easter holidays and they were both laid to rest on Friday. Frans Widerberg was described as “a giant” in the art world, while Knut Borge was a jazz expert and fixture on Norwegian television during the past few decades.
Queen Sonja, an artist herself, was among those attending Widerberg’s funeral at the Oslo Cathedral where the queen and King Harald married in 1968. They were friends and colleagues and she mourned with Widerberg’s family and friends inside a cathedral filled with flowers in the bright colours for which Widerberg was known.
Widerberg, who would have been 83 on Saturday, died after a short illness on April 7. His career spanned 50 years as he painted horses, flying figures and other objects in red, yellow and blue. Both of his sons, Thomas and Nico, have followed in his footsteps and held joint exhibitions. Fellow artist Karl Erik Harr wrote in a tribute published in newspaper Aftenposten earlier this week that Widerberg was “an extension of Edvard Munch in our time.”
Borge, meanwhile, also drew a crowd of journalists, TV, radio and jazz personalities, along with family and friends, who paid tribute to him at the large chapel in suburban Haslum. Jazz singer Hilde Louise Asbjørnsen called Borge’s death on April 9 “a great loss” while his long-time TV co-host Torkjell Berulfsen ended his eulogy by saying, “Dear Knut, as an old journalist, you should have known that this was a piece of news we could have done without.”
Borge was described as a radio and TV host, a music expert, an artist with words and a journalist. In addition to his long career at state broadcaster NRK, Borge was also the voice of Moldejazz from 1979 to 1989 and he often opened many other jazz festivals as well. Before getting heavily into broadcasting he worked for newspaper VG from 1989 to 1985, worked as its jazz columnist and spent five years at newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Borge was 69, and had struggled with diabetes and a neurological disease for several years.