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Chasing silence: Hammershøi Instagram Challenge

May 6th, 2016

Sunbeams falling in through paned windows, women in quiet rooms, and empty streets with façades executed in melancholy greys. The great Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi is often described as “the painter of quiet rooms”—a name that aptly describes his unique, poetic style. Can you capture a sense of Hammershøian serenity on your smartphone?

(Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor, 1901, Oil on canvas, 46.5 x 52 cm, National Gallery of Denmark)

(Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor, 1901, Oil on canvas, 46.5 x 52 cm, National Gallery of Denmark)

(Vilhelm Hammershøi, Near Fortunen, Jagersborg Deer Park, North of Copenhagen, 1901, Oil on canvas, 55 x 66.5 cm, National Gallery of Denmark)

(Vilhelm Hammershøi, Near Fortunen, Jagersborg Deer Park, North of Copenhagen, 1901, Oil on canvas, 55 x 66.5 cm, National Gallery of Denmark)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently on view and free with general admission, the exhibition Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi features twenty-four masterpieces from the SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark. And together with the SMK, we’re launching a photo competition that invites you — and your smartphone — to take pictures of grey-hued, atmospheric interiors in true Hammershøi fashion.

How can I take part?

Take photos inspired by Hammershøi’s aesthetic and share them on Instagram using the hashtag #HammershoiAGO. Or, visit the exhibition in person and take a seat at our very own Hammershøi “selfie spot”: set recreation of Strandgade 25, where the artist lived with his wife Ida for four very productive years between 1912 and 1916.

At the end of each month (May and June), one lucky Instagrammer will receive (2) general admission passes, plus tickets our June 10 or 17 screening of The Danish Girl.

A photo posted by Tim Perzyk (@perzyk) on

What does a Hammershøi photo look like?

Many photographers have already been inspired by Hammershøi in various ways, and this competition isn’t about copying a specific work, but rather about capturing the distinctive look and feel of his art. Many of Hammershøi’s own works are reminiscent of photography and have obvious parallels to Instagram filters and aesthetics.

Characteristic elements of Hammershøi’s work that you might find inspirational:

• Light falling in through windows
• A play of light and shadow
• Restricted colour palette and saturation
• Female figure with her back turned to the viewer
• Solitary female figure
• Figures absorbed in quiet pursuits
• Rooms arranged in a sequential layout
• Empty rooms

The writer Poul Vad studied Hammershøi in great detail, and he describes the relationship between the Danish painter and photography as follows:

Photography is one of the phenomena that defines modernity. The ‘photographic’ aspect of Hammershøi’s paintings is undoubtedly part of the reason why this painter’s art falls within the heading of ‘modernity’ in spite of his traditional approach to his craft. They still seem modern to us today.

You can take your photographs anywhere at all, including at our Hammershøi selfie wall. And remember: a friend’s livingroom can be every bit as Hammershøian as a deserted street in downtown Toronto. So grab your smartphone and start capturing scenes full of greys, light, and tranquillity.

Need some inspiration? Visit Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi , on view til June 26.

Acquiring a masterpiece: The AGO’s very first Hammershøi painting

April 16th, 2016

As we open our newest exhibition Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi, we have something huge to celebrate. In 2015, the AGO acquired the first painting by the Danish master to enter a Canadian museum. Interior with Four Etchings, a characteristic work created at the height of the artist’s career, was for many decades in a private Toronto collection and has been seen publicly only once before, during an exhibition in Japan.

Painted in the Hammershøi apartment at Strandgade 30 in old Copenhagen, the work features some of the artist’s favourite motifs: a closed, square piano with chair, cherished antique Royal Copenhagen porcelain, four heavily framed, indistinct etchings and, most important of all, his wife Ida, who would model for him more than seventy times.

So how did this masterpiece come to reside at the AGO? We chatted with our outgoing curator of European Art Lloyd DeWitt to ask about the history of this painting and the role the Department of Canadian Heritage played in helping to keep it in Canada.