Me and the World

Windows are a manifestation of the boundary between the inside and the outside, and yet they allow us a view out into the world. In Massys’ or de Kempeneer’s portraits from the Early Modern period, windows do not show a realistic environment, but use landscape to portray symbolic backdrops representing the sphere of influence of the portrait’s subject. For Vermeer, however, it is the inward gaze which illuminates the mind of the geographer, symbolized by the incoming light. In Romanticism the act of gazing out of a window is a pictorial expression of the unfulfilled longing for life. We also find windows in contemporary art: Jeff Wall denies us the view outside completely. His window is ultimately reduced to a mere shape in a geometrical composition.

12 Artworks
Created by
Städel Museum

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