The woven works of Hannah Ryggen (1894–1970), one of Scandinavia’s most outstanding artistic figures of the 20th century, are now on show in the Woven Histories exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. Ryggen is renowned for her monumental tapestries dealing with the pressing social and political concerns of her time. Bringing together 16 powerful works from Norway and Sweden, the exhibition offers the first in-depth exploration of Ryggen’s work for a UK audience.
Ryggen’s practice was distinguished by her impassioned response to contemporary socio-political events, both regional and international. Her work dealt with a range of issues from the rise of fascism, the Nazi occupation of Norway and its impact on her own family, to the proliferation of nuclear power and the Vietnam War.
Born in 1894 in Malmö, Sweden, Ryggen’s introduction to art began with evening classes in painting until 1922, when she abandoned it in favour of weaving. Ryggen learned processes of treating wool, spinning and weaving. With a custom-built loom, she began experimenting with materials and techniques gleaned from the world around her; using wool from local sheep and creating dyes from moss, lichen and bark.
Modern Art Oxford’s exhibition surveys the artist’s career, from an early painted self-portrait from 1914 to her mature tapestries of the 1950s and 1960s. The artist's intense relationship to the events of her time stand at the heart of this exhibition, which includes a series of dramatic works from the 1930s and 1940s responding to the horror and violence of fascism – themes that hold fresh resonance today.
Hannah Ruggen: Woven Histories, 11 November 2017 - 18 February 2018
Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford, UK, OX1 1BP