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Art Gallery of Ontario celebrates its first Hammershøi painting with exhibition from the National Gallery of Denmark

Exhibition of 24 paintings by Danish ‘painter of tranquility’ makes its only Canadian stop in Toronto

TORONTO A rare painting by one of Denmark’s most renowned artists, Vilhelm Hammershøi (b.1864), has been acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario, marking the first time a work by the Danish master has entered a public collection in Canada. To celebrate, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will host a critically-acclaimed exhibition of Hammershøi’s work this spring, organized by the National Gallery of Denmark. Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi runs from April 16 to June 26, 2016.

Originally curated by the National Gallery of Denmark’s senior research curator, Kasper Monrad, the installation will be overseen by Lloyd DeWitt, the AGO’s curator of European art. At the centre of the exhibition is the recent AGO acquisition, Hammershøi’s Interior with Four Etchings, from 1905. A portrait of the artist’s wife in their Copenhagen apartment, this painting has been largely unseen since its creation, and held in a private collection. The AGO was able to delay the painting from being exported and purchased it in early 2015. It’s the first example by a Scandinavian avant-garde artist to enter the AGO’s European collection, and its acquisition was made possible with the assistance of a Moveable Cultural Property grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, 2015.

Widely celebrated during his lifetime, Hammershøi’s reputation declined rapidly following his death a century ago in 1916. Rediscovered in the 1980s, he is again in ascendance, internationally acclaimed by critics and collectors alike for his strikingly modern interiors, haunting landscapes and distinctive portraits.

“The works in this exhibition clearly show us the exacting skill and serene poetry that made Hammershøi Denmark’s most famous artist,” says Lloyd DeWitt. “It is a wonderful opportunity to have the remarkable works from the National Gallery of Denmark travel to Canada, and we are delighted to supplement this exhibition with our own exciting new work. The acquisition of Interior with Four Etchings has been a great accomplishment for the AGO, and we are grateful for the assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage who worked with us to keep this extraordinary artwork in Canada.”

Born in Copenhagen in 1864 and trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Hammershøi painted everyday scenes, lacking in detail and narrative, but rich in light and atmosphere. At odds with his contemporaries, his works on canvas and in charcoal include unpopulated landscapes and cityscapes, portraits and spare, sunlight-infused interiors for which he earned the title “de stille stuers maler” (the painter of tranquil rooms). Described by the National Gallery of Denmark’s Director Mikkel Bogh as a “painter of pauses, silences and in-between spaces,” Hammershøi’s reclusive personality and contemplative works made him a favourite amongst poets and writers. Highlights of the exhibition include Interior. An old Stove (1888); View of Christenborg Palace. Late Autumn (1890-92); and A Room in the Artists Home in Standgade, with the Artist’s Wife (1902).

The exhibition is accompanied by a soft cover 48-page illustrated catalogue, featuring an essay by Dr. Kasper Monrad of the National Gallery of Denmark.  The catalogue arrives at shopAGO in April and will be available for $65.95.

AGO members and AFSMK patrons receive free admission to this exhibition. More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at http://www.ago.net/general-membership and about AFSMK at www.afsmk.org.

Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi from SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark is organized by SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark and AFSMK – the American Friends of SMK.

Presentation of the exhibition at the AGO has been made possible by the generous support of Ron and Gitte Granofsky.

Additional support for the exhibition at the AGO has been made possible by the Oak Foundation, the Ahmanson Charitable Community Trust, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Møbeltransport Danmark, SAS Cargo, ArcusGruppen, Sotheby’s, Henning Larsen Architects, VisitDenmark, The Consulate General of Denmark in New York, and the AFSMK – American Friends of Statens Museum for Kunst.

About Statens Museum for Kunst/The National Gallery of Denmark
Situated in the heart of Copenhagen, SMK/The National Gallery of Denmark is the country’s largest art museum, and displays international artwork from the early Renaissance through to the present. The extensive SMK collections originate from the holdings of the 17th and 18th century Danish kings, particularly those of King Frederik V who, in the 1760s, established a large collection of Old Masters which he housed at Christiansborg Castle. Since the opening of the Royal Picture Gallery to the public in 1827, SMK has had an obligation to collect contemporary Danish art, and, thus several Hammershøi paintings were acquired directly from the artist. Christiansborg Castle burned in 1884, but nearly all of the paintings were miraculously saved. The surviving collections became the founding collection of SMK. SMK now presents between six to eight special exhibitions a year, always based on new research. For more information, visit smk.dk

About the AGO
With a collection of more than 90,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit ago.net to find out more.

March 12 – May 29, 2016:        Outsiders: American Photography and Film 1950s–1980s

July 1 – Sept. 11, 2016:            The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.

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For hi-res images and other press inquiries, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson
Senior Communications Officer

andrea-jo_wilson@ago.net

Caitlin Coull
Manager, Communications

caitlin_coull@ago.net

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