I'm Having a Baader–Meinhof Moment with Artist Vilhelm Hammershøi

June 4, 2019 | Bill V.

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I was at the Art Gallery of Ontario a short while ago and took this photo of a painting I liked but was new to their collection. It rang a faint bell. Ever since I've seen Vilhelm Hammershøi's name and paintings everywhere and I realized I was having a Baader-Meinhof effect frequency experience.  

Vilhelm Hammershøi painting "Interior with Four Etchings" from the Art Gallery of Ontario AGO
"Interior with Four Etchings" by Vilhelm Hammershøi, Art Gallery of Ontario.


Not quite déjà vu, the Baader-Meinhof phenomena (not to be confused with the Baader-Meinhof gang)  is a case where once you've seen something (a name, a word, an image, a face), you keep seeing it again and again. You're left wondering, "Were all these Hammershøi moments always out there, but I just didn't recognize them, or is the world conspiring against me?" As I pondered this, my friend Tom told me he was going to Copenhagen for a conference and I suggested he visit the David Collection, which has an amazing collection of Islamic art. When he came back he told me he enjoyed himself there and discovered an artist he wasn't familiar with .... Hammershøi! 

Did you know Toronto has it's own fabulous Islamic art collection at the Aga Khan Museum?

Cosmophilia  Islamic art from the David Collection  Copenhagen

Cosmophilia: Islamic Art from the David Collection, Copenhagen

"With a history spanning some fourteen centuries, Islamic art is one of the world’s great artistic traditions, although it largely eschews such familiar art forms as painting on canvas and monumental sculpture. Cosmophilia is the catalog of an exhibition of 123 examples of the finest examples of Islamic art from the C. L. David Collection in Copenhagen .... An introductory essay by cocurators Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom that explores the nature and meaning of ornament in Islamic art accompanies this lavishly illustrated catalog. In addition to their in-depth discussion of the collection, Blair and Bloom reveal how Islamic artists incorporate figural ornament, written text, geometry, and even vegetation in their designs. The resulting volume will thrill anyone interested in the distinctive beauty of Islamic art."


If you want to learn a bit more about artist Vilhelm Hammershøi please see these titles below (and go visit the AGO to see theirs in person). The AGO also has a new admission approach / membership system – free if you're under 25 and now only $35.00 for the rest of us for an annual membership. 


Hammershøi and Europe

Hammershøi and Europe:

"This generously illustrated volume examines Hammershoi's work as a whole and in relation to the artists of his generation. Hammershoi's enigmatic paintings, with their rich and muted palettes, have always enjoyed enormous popularity in Scandinavia, and recently his work has received renewed attention across the globe. Thematically arranged, this volume includes beautiful reproductions and essays that focus on Hammershoi's isolated private life and travels; his time in London and Germany; and comparisons between him and such notable painters as Seurat, Gauguin, and Whistler. Fans of this remarkable painter, and anyone interested in modern art, will enjoy this celebration of Hammershoi as a part of the pantheon of great European painters. AUTHOR: Kasper Monrad is Chief Curator at the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. 256 illustrations"


Vilhelm Hammershøi and Danish art at the turn of the century

Vilhelm Hammershøi and Danish Art at the Turn of the Century:

"Vilhelm Hammershoi was a leading Danish painter of his generation. In this illustrated book - winner of the Amelienborg Prize in its Danish version - the author examines the life and work of Hammershoi."



In another light  Danish painting in the nineteenth century

In Another Light: Danish Painting in the Nineteenth Century:

In Another Light is the first comprehensive volume in English on 19th-century Danish Art, a subject that is increasingly acknowledged as an essential subject of the history of art. The extraordinary outburst of artistic energy that occurred in Denmark between 1790 and 1910 has few rivals. Within three generations Danish painters developed a national school that rivaled the artistic centers of France, Germany, and Britain. The range of outstanding works created by the Danish artists includes Classicism, Romanticism, Impressionism, and Symbolism. The book is illustrated with a comprehensive selection of more than 200 key works of art, and an important selection of comparative illustrations including period photographs and ephemera.