Archive for December, 2013

Introducing Mr. Vermeer to Taiwan (Chinese style)

December 17th, 2013
girl-with-a-pearl-earring

Joy Lee of The China Post reports that advance ticket sales are on sale for an upcoming exhibition that will introduce Taiwanese audiences to the art of Vermeer. The 37 “works,” reproductions, created with latest digital printing technology, will be on display at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall from Jan. 18 to May 4. The exhibition was authorized by the Vermeer Centrum in Delft.

The exhibition hall will be divided into six sections allowing audiences to understand the processes Vermeer used to create his paintings.

The Chief Operations Officer of Gold Media Group’s Event Department Charles Lee said will allow audiences to view Vermeer’s paintings from a new angle and also in a more scientific manner.Lee also announced that Gold Media and the exhibition sponsor Taiwan Cooperative Bank will work together to establish a Vermeer Center in Taiwan.

If aren’t in the New York area, where the original Girl with a Pearl Earring is currently on exhibition at the Frick, but want to see something better that the oversized copy to the left, click here to download a 1835 x 2151 pixel image.

for the full story, see:
Ticket presale starts for Johannes Vermeer exhibition
Joy Lee, The China Post, December 17, 2013, 12:08 a.m. TWN

Five Vermeer thefts

December 5th, 2013
thieves

What do the five people on the left have in common? They are theives. To be precise…Vermeer theives.

The more of I have learned about art theft, the less it interests me. Just the same, I thought it was time to cover the five twentieth-century thefts of Vermeer paintings for the Essential Vermeer. One page for every Vermeer theft and one page for art theft in general.

There is little glamour involved. Forget gentlemen aesthetes who steal art as a sophisticated diversion—art is stolen principally by criminals who use stolen works of art for collateral in drug deals.

Of the five stolen Vermeers, only one has not been recovered. It could easily have rotted by now, although art thieves generally take care to hide and conserve their booty: it may eventually may allow them to strike a deal with police if they are caught.

The first three Vermeer paintings were stolen by individuals who thought of themselves as idealists. Depending on where one’s heart is, one thief could be called a loner. Depending on one’s political orientation, the other thief, who most likely headed two separate Vermeer thefts, could be called a terrorist. The most recent two thefts were the “work” of thugs, one, a brutal underworld Irish gangster, the other someone who has not been captured but whose name is known (only) to the FBI.

So if you like to get into the criminal mind, there plenty to chew on. If not, hold off. I am working on a study of how Vermeer influenced his contemporaries (no great surprises, he really didn’t).

Naturally, let me know how I can make it better.

Vermeer platoon

December 2nd, 2013
vermeer-gazing

After about 207 or so Vermeer exhibitions and innumerable articles about them, the unsung get their due. As far as I am aware, Randy Kennedy (New York Times) may just be the first journalist to have ever written about that discreet platoon of Vermeer devotees who travel under cover to be with the Master for a few hours. See, “For Fervent Fans of the Dutch Masters, ‘It’s a Dream Come True'”.

Even thought they don’t know me, members of the platoon know my website and they write to me. They are happily married couples, college students, librarians, housewives and lawyers. Most have enough money to travel but some must make real sacrifices. The emails they send are sometimes longish and passionate, often just a note about the most recent Vermeer encounter. A few are hurt because they will never see Vermeer’s Concert stolen by underworld thugs in 1990 and never recovered. A few send me photographs of themselves standing in front of the latest painting with wide grins. What links this heterogamous group is an urgent need to see, one or more Vermeers, but every Vermeer painting on the globe. One thing they never, EVER, omit in their communication is the number of Vermeer paintings they’ve seen so far.

Mind you, this is not trophy hunting. This is not a fad. Tear-jerking  novels or an block-buster exhibitions aren’t what it’s about. It’s deeply personal and it goes on for years, in silence.

I have met a few of the platoon when I travel to see Vermeer (standing in front of a Vermeer is wonderful, standing in front of a Vermeer with someone who likes Vermeer as much as you is more so). Some hold that I am an expert and want to know if Vermeer really used a camera obscura, but also which are my favorite Vermeer paintings. Then they tell me theirs. Some are as articulate as any seasoned art historian. Some don’t seem to comprehend at all why they love Vermeer but nonetheless wind up revealing to me something about his painting I had never thought of.

I am glad to be one of the Vermeer platoon and glad my website occasionally connects me with my companions and, hopefuly, offers them useful information, food for thought and a way to express some of their emotions.

Oh yes! I have seen all but two Vermeers: The Procuress and the Berlin Glass of Wine.

Tim’s Vermeer update

December 2nd, 2013

More on the documentary film, TIM’S VERMEER.

Vermeer-jug

Can anyone do this?

The press has really sunken their teeth in it. Three new articles look at how Tim Jenison, an American tech wizard and compulsive inventor, believes he has discovered how Vermeer painted and then painted one to prove it. (see a quick summary of Tim’s story below).

Kurt Andersen of Vanity Fair looks at some of the technical aspects of the undertaking. Tim shows his cards and throws in a high-resolution image of his finished Vermeer to prove his point. To get yourself convinced or unconvinced, read the article, see Tim’s painting and then click here to see the original on which Tim’s reconstruction is based.

Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times registers the art history community’s first reactions. As you would expect, they are doubtful without being explicitly dismissive. I would suspect this not so much to avoid the unsavory prospect of being caught on the wrong side of history (remember how dreadfully wrong some got the Impressionists and Van Meegeren and how much they paid for it?) but for institutional good manners and an understandable apprehension about alienating the broad public which the movie targets and will likely win over. Could any one calculate how many more visitors will be pushing though the turnsyles of Vermeer museums if Tim’s Vermeer clinches an Oscar for best documentary feature?

Stefanie Cohen of the Wall Street Journal furnishes background information about the “optical question” posed by Steadman and then describes Tim’s venture reserving Philip Steadman’s iffy comment for last. Steadman’s meticulous investigation and lucid argumentation regarding Vermeer’s use the camera obscura eventually brought almost all art historians onboard his not-easy to-digest hypothesis (i.e. Vermeer used the camera and traced with it too), no easy trick for an art history outsider.

Will layman Tim do as well? Tim’s story has just begun to be told.

Tim’s Vermeer opens Dec. 6 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway, Manhattan. Opens Dec. 13 in Los Angeles, nationwide on Jan. 31.

“Reverse-Engineering a Genius (Has a Vermeer Mystery Been Solved?)”
Kurt Andersen, Vanity Fair
November 29, 2013
http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/11/vermeer-secret-tool-mirrors-lenses

“Engineering His Own Vermeer. Tim Jenison, an Inventor, Paints ‘The Music Lesson'”
Dave Itzkoff, New York Times
November 27, 2013
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/movies/tim-jenison-an-inventor-paints-the-music-lesson.html?emc=eta1

“A Man Obsessed by a Dutch Master: In ‘Tim’s Vermeer,’ a documentary co-produced by Penn and Teller, an inventor tries to reach into Vermeer’s bag of tricks”
Stefanie Cohen, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 2013
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304011304579222152499998092