Hannah Ryggen

Hannah Ryggen

National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design Norway

Hannah Ryggen, Gru, 1936. © Hannah Ryggen/BONO.

May 21, 2015

Hannah Ryggen.
Weaving the World

12 June–4 October 2015

National Museum of Norway  National Gallery
Universitetsgata 13
0164 Oslo
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10–18h, Thursday 10–19h,
Saturday–Sunday 11–17h


The National Museum of Art in Norway, in cooperation with the Moderna Museet in Sweden, is pleased to present a major exhibition of the Swedish-Norwegian artist Hannah Ryggen (1894-1970). 

During the past few years the tapestries of Hannah Ryggen have been widely acclaimed. In 2012 six of her principal tapestries from the 1930s were exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel where they received much attention. In autumn 2013 her works was included in the exhibition Tapis/Tapisseries at Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. Recently both OCA and Kunsthall Oslo in Norway have organized shows in which Ryggen’s art has been pivotal. 

Hannah Ryggen was renowned for her strong socio-political engagement and several of her tapestries appear as visual reactions to global political issues, small and big, as well as trials and social incidents. A number of works deal in various ways with groups—or individuals—that are fragile, vulnerable, ostracized or condemned and from an early stage she rebelled against the horrors of fascist and Nazi movements. Themes like violence, exploitation and abuse of power are recurrent in some of her almost achromatic works from the mid-1930s. Her approach can be associated with modern history painting in the tradition of Francisco Goya and Edouard Manet. The Spanish Civil War and the despair at the advancing Nazism and fascism are recurring themes in a number of monumental works from 1935 to 1938. These tapestries are comparabale to Picasso’s Guernica from 1937 in their strong social engagement. Her works were widely acclaimed and some of them were exhibited at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937, when Guernica was exhibited for the first time.

In the 22nd July 2011 terrorist attack in Oslo, one of Ryggen’s most well known works, Vi lever på en stjerne (We Live Upon a Star) (1958), was damaged. The tapestry was placed on the Government quarter’s main wall and is now partly restored. It certainly has not lost its expressivity. Beyond its original visual idea, the work, measuring four by three meters, has now obtained the quality of collective memory. Hannah Ryggen’s body of work is furthermore characterized by genuine craftsmanship, a desire to communicate directly with the viewer, a vigorous way of narrating as well as by a strong awareness of the distinguishing features of tapestry and the mechanism of abstraction.

The exhibition will naturally take as its point of departure the National Museum’s extensive collection of Hannah Ryggen’s works. In addition it will include important works from external public institutions as well as private owners. 

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalogue presenting new research made in collaboration with the publisher Koenig Books London. 

The exhibition has been produced by the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo in collaboration with Moderna Museet, Malmö.

Concurrent public programme

Sunday 30 August, 15h
Asamisimasa ensemble is an internationally acclaimed contemporary ensemble known for its distinctive artistic profile, dedication to contemporary expression, and ability to recontextualise music. Known for their appearances at festivals like Donaueschinger Musiktage (Darmstadt) and Ultraschall (Berlin) the ensemble has collaborated closely with composers such as Helmut Lachenmann, Aldo Clementi, Øyvind Torvund, Alvin Lucier and Michael Finnissy. For their performance they will perform a handpicked repertoire of international and Nordic politically and socially engaged pieces acting as a musical counterpart to Hannah Ryggen’s work. Asamisimasa is Tanja Orning (cello), Anders Førisdal (guitars), Håkon Stene (percussion), Ellen Ugelvik (piano/keyboards) and Kristine Tjøgersen (clarinets).

Jessica Slighter & Susanna
Sunday 6 September, 15h
Susanna (also Susanna and the Magical Orchestra and Susanna Wallumrød) is known as much for her intimate and sparse interpretations of known songs such as “Jolene” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as well as her own songwriting. Her ethereal voice has earned her wide critical acclaim both in Norway and internationally as well as a string of music prizes. She joins up with Dutch singer songwriter Jessica Sligter (also known as Jæ and Sacred Harp) in a new duo project where two distinct voices meet in an expressive intimate concert of duo and solo pieces. The performance includes the work We Live Upon a Star, work written for Hannah Ryggen’s central work of the same name, taking the science fiction poem Aniara (1956) by Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson as a starting point and which was originally commissioned by Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in 2014.

Mika Vainio
Sunday 4 October, 15h
Electronic music and the art of textile share many traits such as machinic repetition, processes of layering and textural development. In a rare encounter between electronic abstract music and the art of tapestry has the electronic music virtuoso Mika Vainio composed a new composition called Trollklangveggen based on Hannah Ryggen’s work Trollveggen. Mika Vainio, currently based in Berlin, was one half of the renowned minimal electronic duo Pan Sonic from Finland. His solo works, under his own name and under aliases such as Ø, are known for their low bass, analogue warmth and roughness. Be it abstract drone works or minimal avant techno, Vainio is always creating unique, physical sounds. He has released records on labels like editions Mego, Touch, Wavetrap and Sähkö and he has been collaborating with Alan Vega of Suicide, Keiji Haino, Chicks on Speed and Stephen O’Malley among others.

Further event details will be announced on www.nasjonalmuseet.no. Concert programme curated and produced by nyMusikk in collaboration with Nasjonalmuseet.

For images and further information please see www.nasjonalmuseet.no or contact Elise Lund at elise.lund [​at​] nasjonalmuseet.no.



Hannah Ryggen at National Museum of Norway
RSVP for Hannah Ryggen
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design Norway
May 21, 2015

Thank you for your RSVP.

National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design Norway will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.