Hannah Ryggen

Hannah Jönsson (1894-1970) was born in Malmö in Sweden, and it is through many winding detours that Trondheim can claim to have a bit of co-ownership of her work.
At an early age Hannah showed artistic talent. She did not enjoy life as a teacher in primary school in Skåne in Sweden; what she enjoyed were the long holidays. She used them to learn different art subjects. This interest eventually brought her to Dresden in Germany. There she met Hans Ryggen, a student of painting and a farmer's son from Trøndelag. In 1923 they married, and the next year Hannah Ryggen moved to Ørlandet.
Hannah Ryggen's primary artistic expression was to be in tapestries. The inter-war years were a time of strong political and social conflicts, and the artist couple actively expressed their left-oriented and anti-fascist attitudes in their art. During the occupation they came in conflict with the Germans, and Hans was incarcerated at Grini during the final period of the war. After Hans passed away in 1956, Hannah eventually established closer ties to Trondheim, complete with home and studio there.
Hannah's broad social involvement is for ever embedded in her monumental tapestries. Today they are on display in a number of public spaces in Norway, including the Storting [Parliament]. The by far largest collection of her life works can be admired in Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum [National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design], Munkegata 5 in Trondheim.
Recommended reading: Magni Moksnes Gjelsvik: Hannah og Hans Ryggen [Hannah and Hans Ryggen]. NT forlag, 1993.

Author: Einar Rædergård