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11 NOVEMBER 2011

Ophelia re-visited through vacant expressions and alienating surroundings

"In 1851–1852 John Everett Millais painted a canvas that would become his most famous work: Ophelia. This compelling picture of the tragic heroine of Shakespeare's Hamlet, floating in the water, has inspired artists for generations. Striking parallels to Millais's oeuvre are to be found in the work of contemporary photographers, such as Rineke Dijkstra, Hellen van Meene, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin. The influence of Ophelia is noticeable in the models' vacant expressions, the hushed atmosphere of the compositions and the alienating surroundings. ...

Ophelia is also referred to in film and pop music. For instance, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue based their music video where the wild roses grow on the painting by Millais. Another example is the cover picture of PJ Harvey's album To bring you my love."

(Van Gogh Museum)

Fig.1 Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue (1996). "Where the Wild Roses Grow".

Fig.2 PJ Harvey (1995). "Down By The Water".

Fig.3 John Everett Millais (1851–52). "Ophelia".



alienating surroundings • artatmosphericattention to detailcompositiondeathfigurationfloatingHamlet • Hellen van Meene • Henry Tate Gift • homage • hushed atmosphere • Inez van Lamsweerde • influentialinspirationJohn Everett MillaisKylie Minogueluminositymusic video • Nick Cave • Ophelia • painting • PJ Harvey • pop music • Pre-Raphaelite • remixrevision • Rineke Dijkstra • serious subjects • significant subjects • To Bring You My Love • tragic death • tragic heroine • vacant expression • Vinoodh Matadin • water • Where the Wild Roses Grow • William Shakespeare


Simon Perkins

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