The Royal Academy of Art is presenting a retrospective of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi(1864-1916), who was known for depicting austere interiors in a dour range of grays. Over sixty paintings, borrowed from museums and private collections in Europe, the United States and Japan will be presented. In The Guardian, Maev Kennedy reports that little is known of the enigmatic painter. “To call Hammershøi a quiet painter is a serious understatement: he had few friends and less conversation, and if he ever confided his private thoughts to a diary, he destroyed it. He usually skipped the openings of his own exhibitions. One painting, supposedly of a party at his house, shows some of his best friends gathered in near darkness around a table with a couple of bottles and an empty bowl, apparently in speechless gloom. His teacher, PS Kroyer – painter of all those colour-saturated images of exquisitely dressed middle-class Danes, strolling along beaches lit by the midnight sun, which have sold a million greeting cards and calendars – recognised a force of nature when he met one: ‘I don’t understand him – I think he will be big, so I try not to influence him.’ In 1885, when the Danish Academy refused to give a portrait prize to Hammershøi’s painting of his sister Anna, and turned down his next submission, artists got together a furious petition, and Krøyer wrote: ‘Can we not find a way to blow that whole putrid box up?'” Read more. See images of the show.
“Vilhelm Hammershøi: the Poetry of Silence,” Royal Academy London, June 28 – September 7. Travels to the National Museum of Western Art and Nikkei Inc., Tokyo.
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