Author Topic: Tim's Vermeer  (Read 289 times)

Tim's Vermeer
« on: June 03, 2014, 01:42:47 AM »


This is a Penn & Teller produced documentary on the exploits of their friend Tim Jenison into the techniques of the Dutch artist Vermeer's hyper-realistic paintings. It is available on DVD from Amazon or the usual places[nb]Hint, hint, aaaah.[/nb]. Jenison is a graphics expert who was always perplexed by how Vermeer achieved his highly technical depictions of light and shadow on subjects despite being a relatively under-looked and impoverished painter in the 17th Century. Like Van Gough his work was not appreciated until long after his death, but also his work had a very visually realistic element that only really came to be appreciated after the camera became superflous.

David Hockney and others had pointed out an ancient invention called the Camera Obscure could explain such technicalities. This was an esoteric tool that was used by artists from at least the 14th Century and arguably before, however the Vermeer technique was far too perfect to accommodate it. The Camera Obscura gave a photographic depiction that could be traced out but really gave no help in depicting colour and shade. Tim needed something that could not only deliniate outlines but also give the artist an ability to match pigments exactly to the brightest light source and the darkest shade in his paintings, eventually concocting the most simple invention based on a mirror to achieve this.

While I am amazed nobody may have come forward with this simple invention before to paint photo-realistically, I'm not one hundred percent Vermeer may have used this technique, but it enabled a non-painter like Jenison to achieve very similar results through using it. It has to be said it makes far far more sense than the oft referred to Camera Obscure, and artists of their day would be the type to disguise their tricks of the trade as it was their bread in hand. Like the Camera Obscura was definitely kept an esoteric knowledge for centuries until obviously various silver metals made it able to reproduced photographs. The only argument is Vermeer kept a busy household full of children and visitors and was not unaccustomed to debt it makes me ponder how he kept this on the sly. It's also puzzling how his photorealism was such ignored, this maybe explained by being ahead of it's time like Van Gogh's impressionism similarly was I suppose. At least Tim's solution fits all the right places, and can turn an inexperienced painter into a near producer of masterpieces, I have to give it some allowance. Though one has to wonder whether it does denigrate what Vermeer did at all if he did use such a method himself? He died in penury with his family hustling to try and sell off his estate illegally such was their monetary predicament.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 01:56:28 AM by Steven »