Friday, September 12, 2008

Hammershøi at the Royal Academy

Visited the Vilhelm Hammershøi exhibition at the RA recently. Very enjoyable, despite the crowds (didn't help that Palin apparently did a programme about the chap). If you've missed it, the paintings are moving to Tokyo for October.

Hammershøi (1864-1916) was a Danish artist who loved the quiet life. As someone I overheard at the gallery said: "You wouldn't really invite him to a party". He spoke quietly, rarely went out, and spent his life in a tranquil unassuming way, which comes through in his art.

Over 60 paintings catalogue his surroundings - there are many paintings with parts of the interior of his house, often with his graceful pretty wife, usually facing away from the foreground.

I of course prefer his portraits, but there are a variety of scenes presented, landscape scenes in Denmark, wintery London scenes around Bloomsbury where he lived for a time. All with a dreamy melancholy magic feeling, evoked by the gentle palette of browns and creamy colours.

Being unemployed, I hesitated about buying the catalogue. Despite being near the end of the exhibition, it had not been discounted, and the hardback had sold out. I resolved to come back in a few days to see if they were available at a discount.

Going back took two trips, as the first time the shop was closed. These two trips on tube fare alone would have wiped out any discount I had hoped for. And worse - apparently they've sold out of the softback, and will not be reprinting! Disaster! So at some point I will have the option of purchasing the hardback for about double what I would have paid that ill-fated day at the RA. Unless I can ask my friends in Japan to find it for me next month...

So it doesn't always pay to try to save money!

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