Tuesday, December 3, 2013

smoke and mirrors and Vermeer

Stuck in traffic last night I happened to catch this NPR interview with illusionist Raymond Joseph Teller, where he talks the documentary Tim's Vermeer which he helped direct. It was fascinating and applicable, new discoveries about technology Vermeer may have used to achieve his almost photo-realistic paintings. (Oh all the tricks artists have up their sleeves). One excerpt that really stuck: Robert Siegel asks Teller what it said about Vermeer if he really had used these devices to aid in creating his paintings, wondering if it smacked of cheating (maybe like an athlete using steroids) and Teller responded:
"Art is not sports. Art is an activity in which one human heart communicates to the other human heart. If Vermeer used this method, which Tim believes pretty strongly he may have used, that makes Vermeer better, not worse. What this means is that Vermeer was not only someone with wonderful and beautiful ideas, and someone capable of miraculous compositions, but that he was willing to put in the incredibly intense work to translate those ideas to paint on canvas. And it's very possible that Vermeer himself may have invented this device." ~listen here

So, here's the trailer for Tim's Vermeer,

But HERE, an interview with Tim Jenison in which he goes into the process even more:

This was the quote that stuck out to me: "...too accurate to have been painted by, well, it couldn't really be seen by the human eye".  Anyways, made for a good excuse to break open my old art history books again and revisit some of these amazing paintings and still, as always, be just blow away by them. (Also made me want to re-watch Girl With a Pearl Earring.)
Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window. Johaness Vermeer, ca. 1659

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