Into the Silence…

Wilhelm Hammershoi

The feeling of stillness which pervades the entire ouevre of Danish artist, Wilhelm Hammershoi, is extraordinary.  I don’t believe that I have ever come across an artist before who can make an empty, spartan room so incredibly mesmerising.  His figures often have their backs facing the viewer, or alternatively, are depicted in a half light, creating both a feeling of distance and a desire to know more.  His colour palate may be limited, but his paintings are always flooded with a soft light, instilling life into the muted tones. These opaque, hazy images can become rather sombre when seen en masse (as I did at a Royal Academy exhibition a couple of years ago) but on their own they are beautiful, a breath of fresh air, and a welcome escape from the chaos of daily life.

Turner

Seurat

Monet

Seurat, The Morning Walk

Constable

Theodore Rousseau

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake Keitele

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Lake Keitele, 1905

Samuel Palmer

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~ by bethiarose on June 6, 2010.

4 Responses to “Into the Silence…”

  1. I found this a very inviting post to go through… I felt the still colours of Hammershoi inviting for silence and introspection, and a feeling of shelter and homely security. But the lively ones from Seurat to a different sort of silence, like an expansive contemplation, a more outdoors one. When I saw that picture in the National Gallery there were a large group of children sitting and watching it and this memory always make me think of that picture as a very lively one.

  2. Thank you! The Seurat painting does have a lively atmosphere, but his pointillist style is so static, making his lego-like figures seem calm and ordered. But I don’t feel that this painting has the same depth of silence as, for example, the final Turner, or the tranquil painting by Finnish artist Gallen-Kallela.

  3. I read once that Gallen-Kallela’s repeatedly felt the desire to seek out unspoiled natural settings to cleanse himself of impurities, to find artistic inspiration and above all to find a sense of freedom. The great black woodpecker was a symbol of loneliness and freedom for the artist. He himself described the red splash on the bird’s head as “the cry of an individual’s life in the silence of the wilderness”.

  4. Thank you for this insight about Gallen-Kallela. I know so little about him but have always been captivated by his painting in the National Gallery, London. Your coment inspires me to research more about him.

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