“Beyond the Light: Identity and Place in Nineteenth-Century Danish Art” at the Met Museum is entrancing in ways I did not expect. The Met writes of the exhibit:
“Denmark in the nineteenth century experienced the disastrous fallout of the Napoleonic Wars, the devastating bombardment of Copenhagen, bankruptcy, and mounting antagonism with Germany. Yet, this sociopolitical and economic tumult also gave rise to a vibrant cultural and philosophical environment for nineteenth-century Danish artists. Beyond the Light places the drawings, oil sketches, and paintings created by these artists firmly in this period, one that witnessed the transformation of a once-powerful Denmark into a small, somewhat marginalized country at the edge of Europe.” [cite]
I am not persuaded such a lofty historical surround is necessary to appreciate the Danish art on display. I am glad, nonetheless, the Met had the idea to put such an exhibit together. Our household’s favorite among the works in the exhibit, among many magnificent contenders, was an austere, empty interior by Vilhelm Hammershøi. I knew, from online investigations, of other works by Hammershøi, among them Moonlight, Strandgade 30, which I particularly admired (and which is included in the exhibition), yet his Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 surpassed anything I’d seen.
Another, earlier, visit to the Met offered yet more treasures, including a ceiling painting from the palace of Amenhotep III ca. 1390–1352 B.C., about which the Met has this to say:
“The important buildings in the palace complex of Amenhotep III at Malqata were embellished with floor, wall, and ceiling paintings. This partially restored section of a ceiling painting was discovered lying face up in a room adjacent to the king’s bedchamber. The motif consists of a repeating pattern of rosette-filled running spirals alternating with bucrania (ox skulls). Similar ceiling patterns, both painted and modeled in plaster, have been excavated at Aegean sites of a slightly earlier period.” [cite]
I’m not sure I’d want to sleep with that over my head,* but on the wall it caught my eye and kept it. [*Nor, philistine that I am, do I think the word “important” adds a thing to my appreciation of what I saw.]
Which is all to explain how the collage at the head of this post came to be.
So, that’s what gives rise to the building interior in the title of this post. The cause for the mention of “exterior” is this:
For those who are curious about such things, this collage combines Wifredo Lam’s Casas de Cuenca (1928) with Mary Ann Rogers’s Oriental Poppies (1973).
To accompany your journey through this post, with thanks to Bert and Curt, here are J. S. Bach’s Sacred cantatas – BWV 31, 34, 51, 191, performed by Raphaël Pichon & Ensemble Pygmalion.
I love everything in this post. Your (well deserved) comment re the unnecessary use of the word “important” makes me shiver with terror – I fear that is the kind of adjective that I might use, and I have to remember the admonitions of my late mother to use adjectives with care. (I wrote great care and then edited it).
Hi, Frances: I’m glad you enjoyed the post!
Dear Susan, thank you for this interesting post. I am a great fan of Hammershoi (cannot manage to type the Danish o) – once there was an exhibition in Munich where I saw some of his fine paintings.
Pictures with “interior” I love very much – also still lifes.
And thank you for your cat posts!
Hi, Britta! I can’t do the Danish o, either, unless I go through a cut and paste, so don’t feel alone. I would have loved to see that exhibit; had to be wonderful. Yes, interior and still life paintings are both favorites of mine, too. Also, and I know not why, paintings with a lot of rooftops! (Glad, also, you are enjoying the cat posts–a way to keep in touch, as someone said on receiving them, that doesn’t send one’s blood pressure up!) Sending all best wishes to you and yours.