Archive for the ‘Vermeer: Digital Imagery & WWW’ Category

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.

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.”

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):

New high-resolution image of Vermeer’s recently restored Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

October 19th, 2011

CLICK HERE  to access high resolution image

The Rijksmuseum has updated their hi-res image of the Woman in Blue Reading a Letter after its recent restoration. At first sight it looks a bit disjointed as pictures always do after restoration. The whole much cooler in hue now the long winding scarf-like piece of cloth on the table, once fairly muddled, can be made out a bit better recalling a similar scarf-like object that drapes down in the Art of Painting. The figure has gained much force and now stands out of the picture more than it did before the dark, yellow varnish was removed. The painting now appears to have greater spatial resonance and sense of volume.

Some color can be made out in the map as well as a few topographical features which had been overpainted. A row of discreet brass buttons with tiny highlights now run along the side of the foreground chair which had been completely obscured by retouches.

Miyagi Museum of Art dates cleared up for Vermeer exhibition

May 18th, 2011

Other than the previously announced (see entry below for details) world premiere of Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter after its restoration, Lady Writing and the Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid will be a part of the exhibition Communication: Visualizing Human Connection in the Age of Vermeer in Japan. Here are the final dates.

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Kyoto:   25 June – 16 Oct 2011
Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai:     27 Oct-2011 – 12 Dec 2011
The Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo:    23 Dec – 14 March 2012

Vermeer-related essay.

March 6th, 2011

“The Art of Music”
in APOLLO, March, 2011
Desmond Shawe-Taylor

The essay can be read online at:


Essential Vermeer goes Facebook

March 6th, 2011


What does the global social network Facebook have to do with Vermeer? At first glance very little. Take a look at many of the art institutions’ Facebook pages that tend to be one-way monologues with insignificant interaction. People’s comments really don’t seem to matter.

And yet the chance to bring the Vermeer community a bit closer might be worth a try. I have found Facebook surprisingly efficient for diffusing news rapidly and opening lines of quick, two-way communication.

So what can you do? Have a look, leave a comment and keep on coming I’ll keep on plugging away for a year or so – the time necessary to evaluate any web initiative – and see if a marriage between social networking and art history makes any sense.

Vermeer Museum Awakens…

February 23rd, 2011

The National Gallery of Scotland has done a succinct feature on its Vermeer, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary complete with a video. Nice to see  the museums are awakening to the immense possibilities that the web offers for art history-related  applications although they still have quite a bit of sleep in their eyes. Here’s where to go:

“Is Google Art Project second-rate?” (yes)

February 11th, 2011

I’m not losing much sleep  over Google’s Art Project virtual tours and neither is Sebastian Smee at the Boston GlobeIs Google Art Project second-rate?

Compare Synthescape‘s virtual tour of the Couldtard Gallery to any on Google’s overblown shows. Some people actually get things right.

Vermeer’s Lacemaker and other paintings by Vermeer go to Cambridge

February 8th, 2011

Vermeer’s Women: Secrets and Silence
October 5, 2011 – January 15, 2012
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

from the museum website:
At the heart of this visually stunning exhibition is Vermeer’s extraordinary painting The Lacemaker (c.1669-70) – one of the Musée du Louvre’s most famous works, rarely seen outside Paris and now on loan to the UK for the first time. The painting will be joined by a choice selection of other key works by Vermeer representing the pinnacle of his mature career, and over thirty other masterpieces of genre painting from the Dutch “Golden Age.” Featuring works from museums and private collections in the UK, Europe and the USA – many of which have never been on public display in Britain – this Cambridge showing will be the only chance to see these masterworks brought together in one location.