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Hannah Ryggen

Threads of Defiance

Marit Paasche


A groundbreaking study of a remarkable artist, described by the New York Times as ‘a figure ahead of her time’


The significance of Hannah Ryggen (1894–1970) as one of the most important figures in the history of Scandinavian art has only recently been recognized internationally. Beloved and renowned for her original contributions to modernist tapestry, Ryggen made radical political statements against Fascism and Nazism before and during the Second World War. Using primary sources, Ryggen expert Marit Paasche brings us a much fuller knowledge of the artist, weaving her life and work into a story that illuminates not only the artist herself, but also 20th-century art history in general.

Hannah Ryggen’s visually spellbinding tapestries, made on a homemade handloom in her small farm on the remote Norwegian coast, depict a wealth of subjects: Mussolini’s Abyssinian campaign, her husband’s internment in a Nazi camp in occupied Norway, the post-war growth of nuclear power, and media coverage of the Vietnam War. At once hard-hitting and humorous, her works combine personal candour, social and political engagement and visual majesty. Paasche explores both the artist’s bold subject matter and particular balance of abstraction and figuration within the context of her life and beliefs. Including a comprehensive selection of works, this book provides an enthralling account of a remarkable, and unjustly overlooked, artist.

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'‘Sumptuously illustrated … Marit Paasche unfolds her exceptional research into the unique art and passionate, courageous life of the pioneering tapestry-maker and weaver of stories'
Times Literary Supplement, Marina Warner’s Books of the Year

'A timely biography of a woman who is once again regarded as a major artist. This is an excellent book for those interested in how artists' lives and times influence their art choices and for young artists interrogating art as social commentary. . . . Summing Up: Essential. All readers'

'Establishes Ryggen as a model of artistic and political engagement'
Best Art Books of 2019, New York Times

'Crackles with Ryggen’s idiosyncratic voice … indispensable to art historians and general readers alike'
Woman's Art Journal

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 16.5 cm

Extent: 288 pp

Illustrations: 122

Publication date: 26 September 2019

ISBN: 9780500094099

About the Author

Marit Paasche is an art historian and former head of research at the Norwegian Video Art Archive. She now works as an art critic, curator and writer.