All images courtesy Schirn.
The exhibition Hannah Ryggen. Woven Manifestos brings together twenty-five monumental tapestries by the Swedish-Norwegian artist Hannah Ryggen (1894–1970) at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt gallery. The exhibition runs until January 2020.
Ryggen is one of the most important Scandinavian artists of the twentieth century; she made use of the traditional technique of weaving to share her strong political messages with the public by means of tapestries that could be moved from place to place. She combined urgent political concerns with mythological motifs and everyday topics, and influences of the European avant-garde with elements of folk art, in a unique way.
Trained as a painter, Ryggen abandoned the medium in 1923 in favour of weaving. In large-format figurative tapestries, she addressed fundamental topics of humanity and society: the horrors of war, the abuse of power, our dependence on nature, and our connections to family and other human beings.
Many of her works deal with the events and political conflicts in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Via her tapestries she launched visual attacks on Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini and made powerful statements of support to the victims of Fascism and Nazism.
OKTOBER 1942 is a monumental work concerning a tragic event that took place not far from where Ryggen lived during the occupation of Norway by the German National Socialists. On October 6, 1942, martial law was declared in Trondheim. Ten men, including prominent citizens such as the theatre director Henry Gleditsch, were executed. In the left part of the composition, Gleditsch, wearing a theatre costume, lies in the arms of his wife after being shot, with a Serbian prisoner of war behind them. Above them floats an armed Adolf Hitler, depicted as a caricature, and trailed by both the author Knut Hamsun, a Nazi sympathiser, and the Norwegian Prime Minister Vidkun Quisling, who was appointed by the occupying power.
After the Second World War, from a small, self-sufficient farm in western Norway, Ryggen took a position on contemporary topics such as nuclear armament and the Vietnam War.
This exhibition recognises Ryggen’s singular artistic position and strong voice. You can tour the exhibition in the below video (commentary in German).
For more information, visit www.schirn.de