Studies in white, black and ochre

To my surprise - and delight - I find Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi's work everywhere these days. At design blogs, at Pinterest. I guess his serene, subtle and seemingly simple paintings in shades of gray fit today's design trends very well. 

Gray? Hammershøi used white, ochre and black (mixed with cobalt blue and english red in the shades), applied to the canvas in rather small, squarish brushstrokes side by side, endlessly over the canvas. Hardly any lines anywhere. A bit like Vermeer, if you like.

The brit paper the Guardian wrote this 2008 at the time of Hammershøi's first retrospective in the UK: A minor star during his lifetime, the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) faded from view during the middle years of the 20th century, only to be rediscovered in recent years by a new generation of admirers. Hammershøi's cool interiors and distinctive grey-themed palette have attracted considerable attention for their restrained elegance and quiet power, and have led to a new retrospective which opens this week at the Royal Academy. Here we present some of the most famous paintings, along with archive photographs of Hammershøi, his family and the interiors he painted, which provide rare glimpses into the life of this most reclusive of artists.

All the above images of Hammershøi's artwork are all from the website.

The photo below is from a study I made some years ago of Hammershøi's painting technique. It was great fun to try to figure him out, and one of many studies of the old masters, that I actually keep up, just because I love to watch the stillness in this painting. The original is at the National Gallery in Stockholm (where the guards thought I was trying to steal the painting because I lingered too long and stood too close...).

WABI SABI interior design art photography
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