Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dutch Baroque (pt. 9)

Next, let's look at Jan Vermeer.  It should be said that his are among the most coveted paintings in the world because they are so rare.  His style, too, however, is one of impeccable exactness.  I heard someone at an art museum lecturing a while back, and he was arguing to his class about the quality of touch in painting.  All other techniques, he said, can be copied and mimicked.  Colors can be reproduced, tone reused, shapes obviously can be refashioned on a flat canvas, the dimensions of a painting can be duplicated to an exact facsimile—the images are there to be painted again; however, he said, the one thing that cannot be replicated is the sense of personal touch in the artwork.  You may have Vermeer's colors and tools, but you do not have the exact lightness of fingers that he did in dabbing finite brushstrokes to his paintings with the delicacy of hair-splitting precision and, more importantly, you do not have the precise velocity of his brushstrokes to produce the tone of harshness conflicting with softness that is present in some of his most famous works.  This is the irreplaceability of Vermeer's work.
Vermeer often liked to paint pictures of everyday life, akin to the now established Protestant tradition of genre painting.  He painted portraits in which the interiors seemed to have greater importance over the figures, and he is known today for his lush interiors more so than for his actual portraits (with the exception of the above, the celebrated Girl with a Pearl Earring).  Most of his paintings are of the same room, actually, which presents an interesting microcosm to the viewer.  "All the world's a stage" was penned by Shakespeare some sixty years earlier.  "And all the men and women merely players:" the people in Vermeer's works are often presented as less important than the light and textures of the stage picture he displays.  In order to see the consistency of his approach to his subject matter, it is beneficial to look at several of his works.  In the spirit of true, hardworking diligence, we'll just look at a few.

No comments:

Post a Comment