1894 – 1970 / Swedish-Norwegian textile artist
In the 1930s, an inconspicuous but energetic artist on a small farm in Norway boldly decried the fascist and nationalist machinations arising in Europe. In her monumental tapestries, the artist Hannah Ryggen launched visual attacks against Hitler, Franco and Mussolini, thus positioning herself as an advocate of the victims of fascism and National Socialism. Her woven works were pictoiral manifestos, uncompromising and courageous – but for a long time, they remained mostly unnoticed by the art world.
From night school to artist
As a primary school teacher, the Swedish-born Hannah Ryggen took evening courses in painting and taught herself how to weave. It took ten years for Hannah Ryggen to master the technique of textile weaving as a medium for her very own form of artistic expression.
Carpets with a political message
Ryggen became one of Scandinavia’s leading artists and, in 1964, was the first Norwegian artist to represent her country at the Biennale. Following her brief period as a shooting star on the international skyline of the art world, her work plunged into oblivion for 50 years. In 2012, however, a selection of works was shown at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel. Solo exhibitions followed at the Moderna Museet in Malmo in 2016 and at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in 2019, but Hannah Ryggen is still not an established figure in the art canon of Europe.