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Artists Vilhelm Hammershøi

Vilhelm Hammershøi

Danish Painter

Vilhelm Hammershøi Photo
Movement: Symbolism

Born: May 15, 1864 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Died: February 13, 1916 - Copenhagen, Denmark

"I have always thought there was such beauty about a room even though there weren't any people in it, perhaps precisely when there weren't any."


In the quiet interiors, bare exteriors, and sparse landscapes of Vilhelm Hammershøi an impenetrable riddle is concealed. He is best known for his paintings of domestic spaces, scantly furnished rooms with white walls and plain floors: horizontal and vertical planes that often meet at irregular points on the canvas. Figures sit or stand, turned away or half-concealed, perhaps engrossed in an activity such as reading which draws their attention away from us. Like the sitter to the book, our perception is somehow irresistibly drawn to these spaces, in which almost nothing is happening, but which suggest something profound and inexpressible about the nature of life and art. The bare facades, skies, streets and tree-lines of his outdoor scenes have the same effect. The most immediate point of reference for Hammershøi's work is Symbolism, and we can also trace a thread of affinity back through the Naturalist and Realist traditions of Northern Europe to the Dutch Golden Age. But in effect, Hammershøi's work stands, like one of his models, in an imaginative space of its own creation.

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