Why Hammershøi is Europe’s exquisite painter of loneliness

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Whether he changed into painting a cook stove, a settee or a chain of white doorways, the late nineteenth Century Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi controlled to imbue the seemingly common objects in his 1/2-empty rooms with “a pleasant not of this international, a reflection of chic existence,” because the art historian Julius Elias positioned it in 1916.

Although his oeuvre encompassed enigmatic portraits, eerily unpopulated landscapes, and cityscapes and a chain of uniquely disquieting nudes, it’s far those mysterious interiors, subtly rendered in sunglasses of grey and white and regularly presenting a lady seen from the rear, which have struck a particular chord with modern audiences when you consider that his emergence from relative obscurity some two decades in the past.

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“We see hundreds of thousands of pics every day and maximum of them are horrible and you then placed yourself in front of a naked indoors through Hammershøi and, without trying to sound trivial, it’s like being in a yoga lesson. You need to take out everything of your self to move returned to the vital,” says Jean-Loup Champion, curator of Hammershøi, the master of Danish Painting, a new exhibition committed to him going for walks on the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris till November.

They are pictures which in reality call for quiet contemplation even if a preliminary experience of calm regularly gives way to something greater unsettling. In the sublimely beautiful Sunshine in the Drawing Room III (1903) the delicately discovered play of light has a nearly meditative fine to it, but its evocation of silence progressively brings on a creeping sense of existential isolation.

The empty seat dealing with a closed door in Interior with Windsor Chair (1913) disquietingly suggests an absent presence or arouses an experience of anticipation for a person’s arrival. The whole space has the interestingly ethereal sense of a waiting room among this international and the following.

Home discomforts

Hammershøi changed into portraying at a time whilst interiors were a highly popular motif. The home changed into seen as a refuge from growing industrialization and artists enthusiastically portrayed the concept of hygge in the artwork which cautioned comfort and warmth. “But you cannot sense that in front of Hammershøi,” says Champion. “It’s clearly the opposite, it’s very annoying.”

Hammershøi appears to had been as taciturn, quiet and reserved as his art. He had a small, near circle of relatives and buddies, many of whom seemed in his work, however, in standard, he lived the life of a recluse, hardly ever performing in public or commenting on his paintings.

From 1898 to 1909, his domestic became an apartment at Strandgade 30 in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen and it is right here that he painted maximum of his interiors. Favouring an austere aesthetic, in marked assessment to the splendid interiors commonplace amongst the upper-middle training, he and his wife Ida had the 18th Century wall mouldings, doorways and walls painted a uniform white and the walls and ceilings in muted sun shades of gray, blue and yellow, with the wood floorboards stained darkish brown.

Their minimum furniture, together with sofas, a chest of drawers, a few tables and a piano, have been systematically re-arranged to create compositions whose limited and non-naturalistic palette divorces the pix from reality, giving them an almost otherworldly pleasant.

That is amplified while he introduces the figure of Ida, almost usually seen from the rear. Although women were a vital presence in the Dutch genre and Danish Golden Age paintings which have been a clear effect on Hammershøi, presenting a sense of narrative, warmth or intimacy, none of those elements are obtrusive in his work. The presence of Ida does no longer deliver his interiors lifestyles; instead, they stay as inaccessible and unreadable as the lady herself.

The girl in the window

That inscrutability is handiest enhanced when Hammershøi subverts the familiar Golden Age window motif which turned into regularly used to explicit a speak with the outdoor global. However, in a work such as Interior, Strandgade 30 (1901) in which Ida stands in shadow facing a wall, not able or unwilling to technique the window in addition in the front of her, Hammershøi alternatively creates a metaphor for the loneliness of the person. Her solitude is heightened by the frames, eerily devoid of images, which hang at the wall at the back of her. “You don’t understand why this negative woman is facing the wall like that,” says Champion. “There is not any trace as to what’s taking place inside her thoughts.”

The empty frames seem again in Interior with a Woman Standing (undated) wherein Ida stands with bowed head in front of a window. Perhaps it’s far the softer mild or the sensitive nature of the duck-egg blue walls but right here she seems more contemplative than on my own. “I assume that’s one of the motives people are attracted to it now,” says Champion. “Since there is no psychology, no tale, you may just place your own vision into it.”

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