Frida Hansen’s “Hoisommer” (High Summer)

High Summer, 1921, is one of Frida Hansen’s later transparent panels, and it hangs in the Stavanger Art Museum. It has a sort of crazy sense of scale, with monumental leaves at the bottom and sides, way bigger than the roses. 

This palette is typical of her works I’ve seen, with warm rose and peachy pink shades; warm light brown; shades of blue; light beige; and a bit of gold. The design is a bit busy. While admiring the various elements, it took a while before I realized that it depicts some sort of stand, a vessel with fruit, and a vase with roses on top. I think the design is a bit difficult to discern because some of the colors are faded.

Almost all the woven areas are a single color, divided by open areas. Look at the separated grapes, and my favorite fruit in the tapestry, the pineapple with variation in the colors of the diamond shapes. Only the apples, and the vase holding the roses and birds, have color variation within solid shapes. 

 

It is interesting to see the warp clearly in a close-up shot.  The warp and weft yarn was handspun for Frida Hansen, and you can see the beauty of the slight variation of the warp threads. In the lower portion the large leaves are surrounded by small flowers, woven with passes over two warp threads. Stems run between them. 

On the upper portion of the transparency, small dots in a diamond shape are woven around the rose bush (above the fruit in this photo). In both cases the small dots serve both a design purpose and a technical purpose, in that they add interest and prevent long floats. 

And birds. So often birds are woven into Frida Hansen’s work.

5 comments

  1. I have really enjoyed your photos of her tapestries, but do you know what kind of dyes she was using or was she buying commercially dyed yarns?

    1. Hello Kristine, From the beginning of her career, Frida Hanse was definitely committed to using only naturally dyed yarns in her works. Anniken The wrote in Frida Hansen’s biography that when she was weaving her first large tapestry, “Birkebeinerne,” she didn’t want to use chemical dyes, so she traveled around her area of Ryfylke and the coast of Jæren to find old women with recipes for natural dyes. Later she ran a dye studio.

      1. That’s fascinating! As a natural dyer who uses her plant-dyed yarn in woven rugs and tapestries, I’m delighted to see how her colors have softened over time, but not radically changed. The difference in colors remaining in her weavings probably had a lot to do with the amount of UV light they were exposed to during use or display. Do you have any information about specific plants she used, especially for the red in the king’s cape?

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