29 October 2011

Vilhelm Hammershoi: A Landscape Close To Abstraction

Although he achieved his first successes with unconventional portraits, the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916)  brought an equally fresh perspective to landscape.  What is, in fact, a barn built into the ground becomes through the artist's vision an abstraction of angles andf light.

Three remarkable images, all executed during the summer of 1883,  form a suite that makes a vivid impression of an austere rural aesthetic discovered in situ.  Bright light becomes compatible with mystery when buildings and even entire vistas are cropped.  Thanks to the introduction of photography eccentric cropping became a popular tool for painters at the turn of the last century and Hammerstein seems to be an early experimenter.

Our view of the farmhouse is what one might see from close up.  Then again, looking at The Farm we need time to orient ourselves to the angle of vision Hammershoi sets before us.  We know that we have seen something that looks like this before but what?   With these paintings Hammershoi refutes the idea that landscapes are conventional or unthinking entertainment.  They do not easily let the viewer go.

1. Landscape with a Barn, 1883, private collection, Denmark.
2. Farmhouse, 1833, Nordisk Galerie, Paris.
3. The Farm, 1883, private collection, Denmark.


Andy McEwan said...

I have particularly enjoyed your recent posts - which featured some of my favourite artists - Khnopff, Klimt,Hammershoi and of course Glasgow's "The Four." Being from that great city, I am naturally well disposed to the work of the latter. But many thanks, too, for the introduction to the work of Clarence White, with which I was hitherto unfamiliar.
Keep up the good work!
Best wishes,
Andy McEwan.

Jane said...

Thank you, Andy. I was interested to look at what artists the Viennese took note of, at a moment when they had so many of their own to enjoy. They liked Khnopff, who was an Anglophile and they liked what he liked, too.
Clarence White's work appeared often in "Camera Work" and he is well documented in the U.S. Perhaps, like so many, he has been overshadowed by Stieglitz who lived long and self-promoted like crazy.

Tamborim Zim said...

Never heard about and I am delighted with Hammershoi paintings! I will search for more.
I have discovered your wonderful blog today. COngratulations and thank you:) I will keep visiting your blue lantern wide space.

Jane said...

Hello Tamorim Zim, and thank you. Hammershoi is one of my favorite artists. There are two other posts about him here (February 15th and Feb. 6th that show other aspects of his work).

Tamborim Zim said...

Thank you, I will take a look:) I wrote a post in my own blog about your blog, telling about my enthusiasm about it. Keep on blogind and tks:)

Jane said...

Thank you for the kind words and good luck with your work, also!