Charlotte Johannesson

An artwork by Charlotte Johannesson.
  • Charlotte Johannesson, Digital Human, 1981 - 1986, Computer graphics plotted on paper, 23.5 x 31.5 cm, © Charlotte Johannesson. Image courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London.

The work of textile artist and early computer art pioneer Charlotte Johannesson (b.1943, Sweden) represents a synthesis between the artisanal and the digital. Trained as a weaver, Johannesson began to make tapestries as art in the 1970s, work that often satirised mainstream politics and defied the conventional view of textiles as a domestic, decorative craft. In 1978, Johannesson traded her loom for an Apple II Plus, the first generation of personal computers. Teaching herself to program, she transposed the same dimensions on the computer as she had on her loom, creating a connection between textile technology and the emerging aesthetics of early computer graphics. Soon after, she started the Digital Theatre (1981–85), Scandinavia’s first digital arts laboratory, with her partner Sture Johannesson in Malmö, Sweden.

This selected survey presents textiles, original plotter prints, digital graphics and installation from the past 50 years alongside a body of new lace works. It will be the first institutional presentation of Johannesson’s work in the UK, and follows from a major retrospective at the Reina Sofia in Madrid in 2021 and her participation in the 2022 Venice Biennale. Johannesson’s work reflects the social and cultural dissent of its time: 1960s counterculture, feminism, punk, and an intellectual sympathy with 1970s militancy. In many ways, her work can be understood as a predecessor of today’s post-feminist and digital art.