Monday, 21 July 2008
Hammershoi: the Poetry of Silence
Discovering a new artist is like discovering a new writer: a whole world of expression and consciousness suddenly opens up before you. The Royal Academy's current exhibition of the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershoi [I can't do the oblique accent across the 'o'] is just such an opportunity. Working in the first couple of decades of the 20th Century, Hammershoi (1864-1916) painted endless interiors of his Copenhagen house - as the RA brochure puts it: "quiet, haunting interiors, their emptiness disturbed only occasionally by the presence of a solitary, graceful figure, often the artist's wife. Painted in the subtlest tones of silvery grey, these sparsely-furnished rooms exude a sense of melancholy, introspection and hypnotic quietude". The exhibition is subtitled appropriately: "The poetry of silence." As well as these expressive interiors there are some equally evocative landscapes, including a wonderful view of Montague Street in Bloomsbury 102 years ago, down the side of the British Museum. The exhibition is on until 7 September.