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Event Item: 00116
Vilhelm Hammershøi: The Poetry of Silence
Exhibition: 28th Jun 2008 to 7th Sep 2008
The Royal Academy of Arts will be holding the first Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) retrospective in the UK this June. The exhibition will feature over 60 paintings spanning the career of this celebrated Danish artist. The works have been selected from museums and private collections in Europe, the United States and Japan.
Hammershøi's most compelling works are his quiet, haunting interiors, their emptiness disturbed only occasionally by the presence of a solitary, graceful figure, often the artist's wife. Painted within a small tonal range of implied greys, these sparsely-furnished rooms exude an almost hypnotic quietude and sense of melancholic introspection.
Hammershøi portrays in muted tones and with decisive geometric stringency his sparsely-furnished apartments. In so doing, Hammershøi consistently dispenses with anecdotal detail transforming the interiors into hermetically-sealed places of disturbing emptiness. With refined discretion Hammershøi uses the apartment as a pictorial laboratory to make us sense the emotional abyss behind the façade.
In addition to his interiors, the exhibition will also include Hammershøi's arresting portraits, landscapes and deserted, urban spaces in his home town of Copenhagen and in London, recording these in the sombre light of overcast winter days where time seems to have stood still. Hammershøi travelled extensively throughout Europe, visiting London on several occasions. The magical introspection and psychologically charged nature places Hammershøi within the context of the international Symbolist movement at the turn of the nineteenth century. Yet the overtly personal references that occur throughout his art make it unique.
During his lifetime Hammershøi was compared to artists such as Eugène Carrière, Fernand Khnopff and - most importantly - James McNeill Whistler with whom his paintings share both a limited palette and a severe simplification of form and composition.
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J OBD