Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tim's Vermeer Opens in Cincinnati March 14th

This is interesting. It is a documentary about how some theorize how Vermeer made his paintings. It opens at the Esquire on March 14th.

I find it interesting that so many agonize over how he made his paintings. Even if he used any camera obscura type of aid, it should not diminish the perception of the high quality of his work in any way.

Anyone who shoots photo reference for their illustrations knows that it is a long, difficult road between that and a successful painting.

This article about the movie is also interesting.:

I like that he compares the movie to a lone episode of Mythbusters.


  1. He almost certainly used lenses to help lay out his compositions, but you're right, that shouldn't diminish him as an artist in the slightest.

    I saw Charles Falco's lecture at DAAP over a decade ago when he and David Hockney were promoting their research on this topic. The presentation of their research was detailed and very convincing.
    Lens behavior is evident in a lot of Post-Renaissance painting. Detailed objects will exhibit subtle curvatures in their forms that will abruptly stop and pick up new curves as the drawn object is "stitched together".

    The backlash from hagiographic art historians comes from a misunderstanding of what makes great art.
    Just as you mentioned, it's not the ability to recreate photographic likeness, but to manipulate observed nature in subtle and unsubtle ways to present something far more compelling than a mere snapshot.

    I recently saw the documentary on Drew Struzan recently, and loved it, but the director seemed to be deliberately shying away from any discussion of technique. Obviously that would entail showing the master illustrator working from photo reference, and I guess that would kill the sense of wonder and magic for a lot of fans. I prefer to see the whole process and discover how artists who use photographic techniques ultimately liberate themselves from them.

    1. That Drew Struzan doc is a must watch for any artist. His work shows how illustration transcends any photo reference.

      It is sad the fashion is to now Photoshop photos, but I suspect illustrated posters will come back.

      There is something a good portrait painter captures way beyond the photo.

    2. It was good, but for my money, I prefer this shorter film by the Smithsonian that shows John Kascht struggling with a Conan O'Brien caricature:

      Not sure how much of that preliminary work was for the sake of the film, but it's loads of fun to watch and listen to.

    3. That is an amazing film. I confess I love Drew's work so probably enjoyed that a bit more. There were so many interesting anecdotes. His Indiana Jones posters and book covers are probably some of my favorite illustrations of all time!