Hammershøi’s works — dazzling in their own right — reflect his focus on solitude, silence and a universe reduced to shades of gray.
In Hammershøi’s interiors, most people, like “Woman Seen from the Back” (1888), are turned away or preoccupied.
During my recent preview stroll through the Vilhelm Hammershøi painting exhibition at the Frye Museum, the staff seemed a bit concerned about potential attendance — understandably so.
Besides the fact that the 19th-century Danish artist Hammershøi is an unfamiliar name to most people, his work does not present the immediate dazzle and charm of his exact contemporaries, the Impressionists, whose crowd-pleasing celebrations of color, urban energy and pleasure are the opposite of Hammershøi’s focus on solitude, silence and a universe reduced to shades of gray.
Once one overcomes, however, the initial shock of encountering such a restrained and understated vision, the subtle and sophisticated pleasures of this very eccentric artist’s work start to become apparent.