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Hammershøi by Felix Kramer

Hammershøi (2008)

by Felix Kramer

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This is the catalogue of the exhibition of the works of Vilhelm Hammershoi held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in the summer of 2008. Hammershoi is, perhaps, the most important painter to come out of Denmark. He was highly regarded, if controversial, during his working life but fell into international obscurity after his death. His reputation revived with the development of interest in symbolism in the 1950s. The majority of his paintings are in public collections in Denmark or in private hands so this exhibition was a rare opportunity to see a representative selection of his work.

The overwhelming impression given by these monochromatic pictures is of northern gloom, isolation and depression. His characteristic interiors, mostly painted in his own apartment in Christianhavn, show almost empty rooms, doors variously open and closed with pale light filtering through uncurtained windows. The dark-clad female figures are mostly painted from the rear, not from any lack of portraiture skill, but rather to emphasise their anonymity. In the same way as the rooms are largely devoid of evidence of human existence his grey landscapes, even in cities, lack any human figures.

Hammershoi's technique is skilful, if unvarying, but his subject matter and the limited palette - influenced by Whistler - left me longing for Provencal light. These pictures could be seen as representations of seasonal affective disorder and one wonders what he painted in the long northern summer days.
1 vote abbottthomas | Aug 29, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 190571128X, Hardcover)

This comprehensive survey, published to coincide with a major exhibition, explores the work of the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916). In haunting interior scenes, Hammershøi dispensed with anecdotal detail, transforming his apartment into a series of disturbingly empty spaces. The same strange stillness can be seen in his portraits, landscapes, and city views of his native Copenhagen and of London, in all of which the passage of time appears to have been inexplicably suspended.


Expertly produced, Hammershøi explores the singularity of the artist’s vision, placing his achievement in the context of ?n-de-siècle Symbolist art and examining his links with Dutch masters of the seventeenth century. Widely revered in Europe during his lifetime, Hammershøi is now ripe for rediscovery.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:58 -0400)

This comprehensive text, the catalogue of the artist's first retrospective to be held in the United Kingdom and Japan, is illustrated with works spanning all stages of Vilhelm Hammersh?i's career.

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