Archive for March, 2013

Vermeer spinoff

March 12th, 2013

I am not a fanatic about most Vermeer elaborations but I must admit, Devorah Sperber put more brains and time into her endeavor than most. She retooled Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring using 5,024 spools of colored thread arranged in seemingly abstract patterns that suddenly pull into focus when viewed through a circular device resembling a crystal ball (After Vermeer 2). See it here.

Lost Vermeer recreated

March 11th, 2013

An imaginative reconstruction of one of Vermeer’s lost works made by the Delft artist Arthur Stam will be on display at the Delft art gallery Ruimte Remmelink from March 10 to April 13 along with other works by the artist. Vermeer’s lost work was described in the Amsterdam 1696 auction catalogues as, “In which a gentleman is washing his hands in a perspectival room with figures, artful and rare…”

Ruimte Remmelink
Voorstraat 14 – Delft – 06 3414 3964
Open donderdag – vrijdag – zaterdag van 13 – 17 uur

Ideas for the technically minded

March 10th, 2013

Dragnetting the web for Vermeer as I often do, a lot comes up, both illuminating and obscure.

For example, I discovered that aside from Philip Steadman’s game-changing study on Vermeer and the camera obscura, the amount of technically oriented writings on Vermeer’s interiors is extensive, and a number of them can be accessed online. I won’t swear by any: the math is way way over my head, but maybe not over yours.

Vermeer lectures & events in San Francisco

March 9th, 2013

Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring will be at the De Young in San Francisco until June 2.  Here’s a link to the related lectures & events page if you are in the area.

Are art institutions getting through on the net?

March 7th, 2013

One has the growing sensation that, despite their efforts, which in most cases are visibly half-hearted, art institutions (even the moneyed ones) are still light years from creating an effective strategy that would allow them to establish meaningful two-way communication with their potential clients. Attempts to engage navigators via social media are generally limited to the display of”I like”buttons and appeals to”tweet”and”share.” Many Facebook commentators don’t take the bait and leave no more than a few words (“awesome,””gorgeous,””great show,”and”wonderful!!!”being the most common) and they all fall on deaf ears since no one on the other side dreams of taking the trouble to respond to any comments whatsoever.

Unless museums are willing to do some serious homework and get more professional, more creative and more passionate about the matter, I don’t see public interest in their art treasures picking up from that end.

Coincidences ?

March 6th, 2013

While it may be true that paintings are born more from painting than from one-to-one observation of nature, I wonder how frequently art historical connections don’t take into account that coincidences are inevitable.

For example, the mysterious shadow cast by the outlandish hats of Vermeer’s Girl with a Red Hat or Girl with a Flute may owe nothing to Rembrandt or followers. Big hats actually do cast shadows when light originates, as in the vast majority of natural circumstances, from above. See Savoldo’s Flute Player painted 150 years before Vermeer’s tronies.

Merchandising Vermeer

March 6th, 2013

Although I understand that many museums are strapped for cash, I still wonder if certain forms of Vermeer merchandising lowers the bar and could do more bad than good.

Jori Finkel (“The Culture Monster” – Los Angeles Times) reports that on the occasion of the Girl with a Pearl Earring showing at the De Young, the museum”reports strong sales for “Girl” branded gift-store merchandise, which “includes the usual postcards and tote bags but also pendant necklaces and a compact mirror. At least one item, ‘intense dark’ Ghirardelli chocolate bars wrapped with the ‘Girl’s’ image, have already sold out and been reordered.”

Imagining what Vermeer wrote

March 5th, 2013

An Essential Vermeer friend informs me that in an attempt to involve potential art goers, the Getty Museum’s Anne Martens writer solicits them to imagine the first line of the letter being ready by Vermeer’s Woman in Blue with a Letter, which temporarily exhibited at the Getty. Here’s a video with selected responses:

You can also see related events at the Getty here:

Do museums have copyrights on their Old Master paintings? No, Not really.

March 4th, 2013

An email I frequently receive (always from timorous art history students and scholars) regards image copyrights on the web: “Is the 350 year old Rembrandt, Vermeer etc. I need to reproduce for my Powerpoint presentation protected by copyright?”

No, it isn’t.

At least not according to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruling of the Bridgeman Art Library vs. Corel Corp. In fact, not even museums claim copyrights on their centuries-old paintings; they claim copyrights on the PHOTOGRAPHS (theirs only, not yours) of their centuries-old paintings.

However, the Bridgeman ruling informs that an exact photographic copy of an artwork in public domain images (e.g. our Rembrandt because it’s pretty old, way past 100) is not protected by copyright in the United States because it LACKS ORIGINALITY, and originality is the key concept in copyright protection.

Even if the photographer utilizes the most advanced technology imaginable to produce that”perfect”digital image, the process essentially amounts to something like”slavish” imitation because photographer adds no creative value whatsoever to the painting. Nor does the transposition of the art work into another medium constitute creativity. After all, his only goal is to make the photograph indistinguishable as possible from the original Rembrandt. Look at it this way, if you copy the Bible letter for letter, even with the latest most advanced hi-tech laser pen, it is fairly obvious you cannot claim copyright on your Bible.

Museums argue that without copyright they will lose important introits, 10% and more. Here’s the ruling:

Here’s one defense (not particularly convincing):

Essential Vermeer Facebook: What went wrong?

March 4th, 2013

Despite my doubts, I jumped into Facebook more than a year ago hoping to find out what sense, if any, in social networking might have for art related content. The overall experience was mildly positive: the challenge tailoring one’s ideas for Facebook readers was stimulating, and admittedly, response was enthusiastic.

But the problem I am unable to overcome is that one has virtually no control of the format. After a few posts, everything slides down to the bottom and off the page disappearing for all but those readers armed with unusual dedication and patience.

I’m still undecided as to leave it or insist. It’s hard to juggle with content, private communications, Facebook and now, ESSENTIAL VERMEER TIMES.