February 17, 2007 - Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona - HAMMERSHØI AND DREYER
February 17, 2007


Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior with Young Woman seen from behind, c. 1903-1904, Oli sobre tela, Randers Kunstmuseum

25 January – 1 May 2007

Montalegre, 5. 08001 Barcelona
tel. 34 933 064 100


The CCCB presents the exhibition Hammershøi and Dreyer, bringing together for the first time the work of the two most universal Danish artists of all time: the painter Vilhelm Hammershøi and the filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer. The show is a co-production of the CCCB and Copenhagens Ordrupgaard.

This exhibition is the first time Hammershøis work has been shown in Spain, represented here by 36 essential pieces. To date, anthological shows of the Danish painter have only been presented in Paris, New York and Hamburg.

The artists
Vilhelm Hammershøi (Copenhagen, 1864 1916) was an artist who created his own personal style, independent of the trends of the time. His work is confined to a few pictorial themes: interiors of the places where he lived; a solitary woman, normally with her back turned to us, in a domestic setting; portraits of family and friends; monumental buildings in Copenhagen and London, and landscapes of the Danish island of Sealand. These motifs appear repeatedly in his paintings, creating an atmosphere of mystery with no apparent action, and this immobility is one of the keys to the fascination it exerts. Hammershøis range of colours is dominated by greys which, in his hand, acquire a strange depth. He was one of the painters who best knew how to express the tempo of solitude and the corporeal nature of light.
Carl Theodor Dreyer (Copenhagen, 1889 1968) directed films that refine the expressivity of light and shadow, and are characterized by an indefatigable quest for spiritual truths and beauty. In the course of 40 years, he filmed both silent and speaking films, including The President (Præsidenten, 1918), Michael (Mikaël, 1924), Master of the House (Du Skal Ære Din Hustru, 1925), The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne dArc, 1927), Vampyr (1932) and Day of Wrath (Vredens Dag, 1943). In 1955, Dreyer won first prize in the Venice Film Festival with the film The Word (Ordet). Today it is considered one of the ten best films in the history of the cinema.

The analogies

The exhibition presented by the CCCB aims firstly to publicize two very well known creators for the history of painting and film, though they are little known beyond Danish borders.

The second challenge is to show the strong visual and creative relations between the artists, and in their methods, their intimate understanding of art and their aesthetic similarities, such as:

– They share the conviction that the greatest dramatic intensity is found in interiors.

– Their treatment of the human figure, particularly the female form, refers o the contemplation and ecstasy of the characters and their personal dramas, and even contain the hint of death.

– The dominance of light in the scene is impeccable in both artists.

– The landscapes, charged with a very special atmosphere, and the exteriors perceived through sculptural figures, windows and doors closed on the interiors represented.

The exhibition

As pointed out by the exhibition curators, Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark, Annette Rosenvold Hvidt, Casper Tybjerg and Jordi Balló, Dreyer was probably Hammershøis best and maybe his only true heir. However, the challenge of the exhibition is not just to highlight the analogies between the painter and the filmmaker, but also to establish the explicit link between the bodies of work of the authors in a two-way relationship. The exhibition will help us to understand some of the creative forms of the filmmaker by means of a knowledge of the painters work, and to better understand the essence of the painter in the light of the films by Dreyer.

The exhibition comprises 36 works by Hammershøi and 12 audiovisuals showing excerpts from Dreyers films. The show begins with Dreyer, underlining the importance of light in his films. It continues with Hammershøis paintings, presented one by one to highlight the intimate relationship between the spectator and the work and to convey the central ideas of his painting: sobriety, silence and slowness.

Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
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