Hannah Ryggen:”We Are Living On a Star”1955, tapestry made in commission for the Highrise building in Oslos government quarter. The Great Depression had hit Norway, bringing high unemployment and terrible deprivation. Why Hannah Ryggen, largely written out of art history following her death in 1970, has undergone such a remarkable revival over the past decade might be put down to several factors: her powerful graphic sensibility, the choice of tapestry as her medium and her fearless engagement with the dark times in which she lived, which have powerful resonances with our own. ”She was horrified by reports of the war, and was angry that coverage of the brutal loss of life in another country had been overshadowed by the media focus on the behavior of President Johnson as an individual,” the curator said. An exhibition at Modern Art Oxford is the largest of Hannah Ryggen’s works ever staged in Britain. Ms. Ryggen gave almost all of her major tapestries to public institutions, hoping they would be widely seen. Even in such company, Ms. Ryggen’s work was censored: An upper portion of the tapestry, showing Benito Mussolini’s decapitated head held aloft by an Ethiopian soldier, was folded over to avoid offending Italians. “Etiopia” was shown by Norway at the Paris Expo of 1937 in the pavilion adjacent to Spain, where Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” offered a horrified response to the Nazi bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. Hannah Ryggen (21 March 1894, Malmö – 2 February 1970) was a Swedish-born Norwegian textile artist. Collection of the Norwegian Government. The Anti-Fascist Tapestries of Hannah Ryggen Ryggen's massive allegorical tapestries attest to the artist’s strong condemnation of violence as … On a trip to Dresden, Germany, as a young woman, she immersed herself in the work of Vermeer, Goya and El Greco. [1] In 1936 she wove one tapestry called 'Hitlerteppet' (The Hitler Carpet), with two decapitated figures kneeling before a hovering cross, and one called 'Drømmedød' (Death of Dreams) depicting prisoners and murderous Nazis in a concentration camp. To Ms. Ridgway, the curator, the political backdrop against which Ryggen wove her tapestries suggests painful parallels with the present. OXFORD, England — On July 22, 2011, Hannah Ryggen’s tapestry “We Are Living on a Star” was hanging in the Cabinet Building in Oslo’s Regjeringskvartalet, or government quarter, when a car bomb exploded in the street outside. Hannah Ryggen Wove Politics Into Her Gorgeous Tapestries. Toward the end of her life, Ms. Ryggen turned her gaze to the United States. [1], She was a pacifist who subscribed to Scandinavian feminist and leftist journals, and was active in the Norwegian Communist Party and international workers’ movements. She was likewise versed in the art of her own time, making repeat visits to the huge 1914 Baltic Exhibition in Malmo, Sweden, at which paintings by Kandinsky and the German expressionist group Die Brücke were shown. It was shown at the Paris World’s Fair in 1937, next to Picasso’s Guernica (1937). She paid close attention to the rise of fascism in Europe, and made work in direct response to it. Here Ryggen taught herself the various processes of tapestry making, from the carding and spinning of wool, to the concoction of locally-sourced natural dyes from insects, plants, lichens and bark. 2017 Hannah Ryggen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Anders S. Solberg, via Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum. “6 October 1942” depicts the killing of the actor and theater manager Henry Gleditsch during the Nazi occupation of Norway. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). It was shown at the Paris World’s Fair in 1937, next to Picasso’s Guernica (1937). "[2], Ryggen created about one hundred large carpets in her lifetime. “Blood in the Grass” (1966), the final work in the exhibition, shows President Lyndon Johnson as a scarlet cowboy, a dog at his feet, beside a lawn of tufted green wool, through which seeps a violent red. Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. [1] She lived on a farm on a Norwegian Fjord and dyed her yarn with local plants. Opstad, Jan-Lauritz. 2017 Hannah Ryggen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum. O n a wind-blown farm on a remote Norwegian shore, with no running water or electricity, Hannah Ryggen worked utterly from scratch on her anti-fascist tapestries. Yes we love, 1950, Hannah Ryggen. Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Born to a working class Swedish family in 1894, Ms. Ryggen trained as a portrait painter before turning to the loom. Since repaired, this scarred work, with its explicit message of global solidarity, has become an emblem of collective memory, lending its name to a 2014 exhibition at the Henie Onstad Arts Center, south of Oslo, in which artists responded to the events of that day in 2011. 176–77. Self-trained, she worked on a standing loom constructed by her husband, the painter Hans Ryggen. According to Marta Kuzma, although Ryggan "shared and affinity with Käthe Kollwitz, who also selected as her narrative the social, spiritual, and political disorder of her time, Ryggan bypassed Kollwitz's tendency to draft allegorical figures (such as Black Anna) and instead identified historical individuals who forged, installed, and enabled the totalitarian regime in those years – Mussolini, Hitler, Göring, Quisling, Churchill, and the Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun. [3] Etiopia was also shown in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair, but there was a cloth covering the part of the scene with a spear piercing through Mussolini’s head. 2017 Hannah Ryggen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; The Modern Art Oxford. Among the earliest works is the frieze-like “Etiopia,” Ms. Ryggen’s furious response to the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1936. Her 1935 tapestry 'Etiopia' (Ethiopia) was triggered by Benito Mussolini’s invasion of the African country. The central suite of works in the Oxford exhibition address Nazi atrocities first in Germany, then Norway, and their eventual impact on Ms. Ryggen’s family. Like all of Ms. Ryggen’s tapestries, it was created directly on the loom without preparatory sketches. Her turn to tapestry, and with it, her interest in craft traditions and the eccentric compositions of medieval art, was explicitly political. Two years later Mr. von Ossietzky was executed. Ms. Ryggen’s tapestry was torn and showered with splinters of glass and other flying debris. Raising sheep for wool, and making her own dyes from local moss, lichen, bark and plants (and the contents of a chamber pot), tapestry freed her from dependence on commercial materials. After moving to a remote area near Trondheim, Norway, in 1924, she and her husband Hans lived off the land they farmed. Etiopia was also shown in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair, bu… She was a pacifist who subscribed to Scandinavian feminist and leftist journals, and was active in the Norwegian Communist Party and international workers’ movements. [3] In 2012 a selection of her woven works were included in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel. Following the formal traditions of 17th and 18th century Norwegian folk textile arts, her works combine figurative and abstract elements. Twenty eight of her works were shown in a solo show at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1962, and she was the first female Norwegian artist to be represented at the Venice Biennale, in 1964. Synnøve Anker Aurdal (1908-2001) emerged on the Norwegian art scene in the late 1950s. The extraordinary “6 October 1942” shows the shooting of Henry Gleditsch, the director of Trondheim’s Trondelag Theater. Above a Pietà-like scene of Mr. Gleditsch’s death, Hitler flies through Norwegian skies farting oak leaves as a symbol of German strength. “Her work was made in the face of rising nationalism in Europe,” Ms. Ridgway said, “racism that played on people’s genuine fears about their economic stability.”. "Hannah Ryggen". Commissioned in 1958 for the Cabinet Building by its architect, Erling Viksjo, Ms. Ryggen’s 13-foot-high, hand-woven work shows monumental male and female figures embracing before a blue ovoid form that represents the world, suspended amid planets in a night sky.