Archive for the ‘Vermeer in the News’ Category

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.

Vermeer’s Guitar Player returns home

November 26th, 2013
Vermeer's Guitar Player agina in the Kenwood House

The Kenwood House, one of Britain’s most historic stately homes, has finally been restored to its former beauty. With the aid of conservation charity, eight rooms have been re-presented and reinterpreted to reference different periods in the building’s history. The newly refurbished rooms now feature family trails, an interactive dolls house, original letters and architectural designs. Naturally, in situ is a priceless collection of artworks by Vermeer, .Rembrandt, Van Dyke and Gainsborough which had been collected by Edward Cecil Guinness, First Earl of Iveagh. The work, which took 18 months and cost  £6 million,  is now drawing to a close with a reopening date set for Thursday, November 28. Vermeer’s  late Guitar Player will be in the original location after its was shown for the period of the Kenwood’s restoration and the London National Gallery.

Click here for a BBC video about the restoration.

Click here more about for painting.

Click here for information about the restoration from the Kenwood House website.

drawn from:
Aaron Sharp, “Restored to its former glories: Stately home which houses masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer set to reopen to public”, Mail Online.com. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513611/Kenwood-House-houses-masterpieces-Rembrandt-Vermeer-set-reopen.html>

Google Art Project vs. Johannes Vermeer

May 28th, 2013
The Geographer, Johannes Vermeer

Detail of the Geographer on
Google’s Art Project at highest resolution.

Google can be amazing…sometimes the wrong way. From what I have gathered, the behemoth’s homegrown Art Project reflects fairly accurately their corporate mindset: despite brave-new-world ambition and claims of pushing technology to its limits, the project is sometimes unbelievably uneven in quality.

Among the latest museum additions to the Google Art Project is the Frankfurt Städelsches Kunstinstitut which houses Vermeer’s Geographer. Let me put it this way, I’d recommend you clicking on this link that takes you to the zoom feature of the picture only in the case you have a grudge with Vermeer. Its gritty, pixelated quality is simply astounding. It seems more likely that it was scanned from a weathered color 1950s transparency than from the picture itself using state-of-the-art digital imaging apparatus. On the positive side, at this point Google probably can’t do anything worse for Vermeer, although they will probably keep on trying.

BTW, can someone explain why Google Art Project lists artists by their first names?

Vermeers together for the first time at the MET

May 24th, 2013
detail of Johannes vermeer's Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has officially reopened its European art galleries after nine months of renovations and reinstallation. Twelve galleries once used for special exhibitions are now used for the permanent collection, enlarging the galleries by a full third. This is the first time that the MET’s five Vermeer’s have hung together there, more than any other museum in the world (the Rijksmuseum which has four and the Washington National Gallery has four). If you want to do a bit of celebrating click here to access an excellent high resolution of one of the MET’s Vermeer’s, the Young Girl Holding a Water Pitcher (courtesy, of the Observer.comGalleryNY).

Welcomed Lie

May 13th, 2013
poster

Dave Collins (Saskatchewan Leader-Post) reports that the seventy-six-year-old Robert Gentile, a reputed mobster, has failed a FBI polygraph test when asked if he knew the whereabouts of priceless paintings, including Vermeer’s mid-career Concert, which were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. According to the polygraph expert, there is a 99 per cent chance that Gentile knows something about the heist. Moreover, when Gentile’s house in Manchester, Conn. was searched last year, they found a handwritten list of the stolen paintings, their estimated worth and a newspaper article about the heist a day after it happened.

Frankly, it is hard to understand how happy we should be that the FBI is getting closer to a solution. While it does represent a chance that the painting could be finally recovered, the chances are just good that we will find out it was destroyed.

What do illegally sold prescription drugs, handguns, a shotgun, five silencers, a bulletproof vest, handcuffs, police scanners, brass knuckles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and homemade dynamite have to do with Vermeer?

May 7th, 2013

Dave Collins* of The Boston Globe reports that the FBI believed that Robert Gentile, convicted of receiving stolen goods, carrying a deadly weapon in a motor vehicle, and possession of illegal firearms, had information on the the half-billion dollars heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990, which included Vermeer’s Concert. FBI officials said earlier this year that they believe they know who stole the paintings, but still do not know where the artworks are. Gentile, 76, has denied knowing anything about the heist but the assistant US Attorney John Durham wrote in his sentencing memo that Gentile has been identified by several people as a member of a Philadelphia crime family. Authorities also searched the Gentile’s property with ground-penetrating radar in an attempt to find the stolen artworks, but did not come up with the paintings.

Please take this news with a grain of salt: I am tiring of reporting “breakthrough” announcements that lead nowhere.

drawn from:
*Dave Collins. “Man FBI tied to art heist faces sentencing.” The Boston Globe. May 07, 2013.

Symposium: Could four Vermeer paintings have been done by the artist’s daughter?

May 2nd, 2013
two_vermeersbis

In his book Vermeer’s Family Secrets (Routledge in 2009), Cooper Union art history professor Benjamin Binstock proposed that four paintings by Vermeer, including the Girl with a Red Hat,  might actually have been painted by his daughter, Maria, who he further identified as the model for the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring. Thus far, however, Binstock’s thesis has been met with silence in the art historical press—itself a fascinating response.  But what if we were to take Binstock’s claims seriously, or at least allow them a fair hearing? How might we go about doing so? Beyond that, what if we in turn were to think about how such theories make their way through the art historical vetting process? How generally does scholarship evaluate such claims, and in turn how ought we evaluate how it does so? And if Binstock were proven right?

An all-day symposium will address Binstock’s unorthodox theory and related questions will be held at the NYU Cantor Film Center, Saturday May 18, 2013 (11:00 a.m. – 6: p.m.). The symposium will attended by Benjamin Binstock, Anthony Grafton, Linda Nochlin, Chuck Close (painter), James Elkins (art historian), Vincent Desiderio, Rachael Cohen and Ulrich Baer.

Entrance is open to the public and free. For further details click here or download the PDF, which features a brief account of Binstock’s theory.

Milking Vermeer

April 23rd, 2013
milkmaidmilk

A solemn oath to cover all Vermeer-related news requires me to report that sixteen iconic artworks from the Rijksmuseum will adorn millions of gallons of milk, cream and yogurt produced by the Albert Heijn dairy company. Six of the company’s one-liter packs features a colored Empire Stamp: save four and get 5 euro discount on a ticket to the Rijksmuseum. The image above is a screenshot from an Albert Heijn promo video having fun with Vermeer. There is no way to imagine how Vermeer would have reacted if he saw his Milkmaid reproduced on a milk carton, but there’s no doubt Jan Steen would have had a great big laugh.

Johannes Vermeer home again

April 13th, 2013
rijksmuseum_opening

Cheered by thousands, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands reopened today her country’s national museum after a 10-year renovation. And after years of whizzing around the world, the four Rijksmuseum Vermeers have finally come home for a much needed rest. Actually, the Milkmaid and Little Street logged only one trip aboard each, but the Woman in Blue Reading a Letter made a last minute trip around the globe while the travel lof of the Love Letter is too long to list (if you are up to this kind of thing I keep track of all Vermeer exhibitions here). Sending Vermeer’s Woman in Blue to Japan funded a highly detailed catalogue of Dutch Golden Age paintings, a three-volume set on artists born between 1600 and 1630. Meanwhile, the spectacular online database featuring 280,000 objects, half with accompanying images, has been completed.

The renovation of the Rijksmuseum took twice as long as expected and costs rose much higher than planned. Among the glitches, designers had to grapple with asbestos and the obligation to incorporate an existing bike path into their design. Administrators hope to double the attendance from one million pre-restoration visitors per year, to two million.

April 12 – Vermeer Lectures at the De Young Museum of Art

April 7th, 2013

film screening:
April 12, 2013 – 6:15 p.m.
Proust + Vermeer
(Dir. Richard Voorhees, 30 mins., in French with English subtitles)
Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco

recherche

If you are in the San Francisco area and are a Vermeer devotee, an evening at the De Young might be worthwhile. Arguably, the greatest French writer of the 20th century, Marcel Proust and one of the most fervent early admirers of Vermeer, wove many observations about the painter into his novel À la recherche du temps perdu. The most famous was the narrative of Bergotte, an aging art critic who leaves his sick bed in order to go see The View of Delft, suffers an attack and dies while admiring Vermeer’s painting and contemplating on the mysterious “petit pan de mur jaune.” Perhaps more than any other, Bergotte’s final thoughts before dying faithfully reflect Proust’s idea of art. (But which part of Vermeer’s View of Delft, if any, picture corresponds to the noted “petit pan de mur jaune”?) Click here.

Afterwards (7:00 p.m.) Kate Lusheck, Assistant Professor of Art History/Arts Management (University of San Francisco) and a specialist in 17th-century Northern Baroque art, discusses issues of artistic meaning, representation, and tradition in the paintings and prints of the Dutch Golden Age: Looking Beneath the Surface: Dutch Art and Meaning in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Ticket information.