Did Vermeer Trace His Golden Age Masterpieces? An Artist Puts the Theory to the Test | artnet News

Did Vermeer Trace His Golden Age Masterpieces? An Artist Puts the Theory to the Test

If Johannes Vermeer used a camera obscura, a new book may have figured out how he did it.

Detail from Jan Vermeer’s Young Woman With A Pearl Necklace, (1662-1665). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Leaving behind just 36 exquisite, immaculately lit paintings, Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer has captivated art lovers for generations. Now, author Jane Jelley may have uncovered the artist’s secrets. In her new book, Traces of Vermeer, Jelley tests long-held suspicions that Vermeer actually traced his compositions using a camera obscura—by demonstrating just how such a technique could have been executed.

For over a century, art historians have wondered if Vermeer could have been working with the aid of a camera obscura, a pinhole device that uses a lens to project an inverted view of a subject into a darkened space. And if so, how did the artist convert an upside-down light projection into a fixed painting?

Precious little is known about the Dutch Golden Age master, aside from his birthplace in Delft. So there is no historical evidence supporting such theories. All we have are the paintings and what can be inferred from their appearance.

Jane Jelley, Traces of Vermeer (2017), cover. Courtesy of Oxford University Press.

Jane Jelley, Traces of Vermeer (2017), cover. Courtesy of Oxford University Press.

Jelley, a painter, has approached the mystery from the point of view of an artist, doing her best to replicate Vermeer’s work from the canvas up, based on X-ray observations.

Beneath the surface, there aren’t underdrawings on Vermeer’s canvases, and there are no signs that he made corrections to his layouts as he worked. Instead, he created a shadowy image outlining the scene before painting. These unusual underpaintings served as a foundation for his luminous works.

Using a camera obscura, Jelley attempted to come up with the same underlayer through a rudimentary monoprint process. She projected images of various Vermeer works through the lens, then traced each image in dark paint on a sheet of transparent oiled paper. She then pressed the painted paper—essentially an image negative—down on canvas, producing a rough outline of each scene. The results appear remarkably similar to the underpaintings of the Vermeer works.

Jane Jelley devised a mean of making prints from a tracing made using a camera obscura, as part of the research for her new book Traces of Vermeer (2017). Courtesy of Oxford University Press.

Jane Jelley devised a means of making prints from a tracing made using a camera obscura, as part of the research for her new book Traces of Vermeer (2017). Courtesy of Oxford University Press.

In reimagining Vermeer’s process, Jelley made certain to use a method the artist could have employed in his era. “The materials used in the studio experiments were all available in Vermeer’s time. Great care was taken to prepare the surface of the canvas in a way he would have recognized; and pigments were ground by hand into cold pressed linseed oil,” Jelley wrote on her website, describing the process. “This experiment took a year to complete not only because grounds had to be dry and prepared ready to receive a print, but also because it took time to refine a successful technique.”

If Vermeer really did use this method, it would go a long way to explaining his distorted proportions and off-center compositions. It’s also easy not to have to adjust your perspective when you’ve traced it all in one fell swoop.

L: Jane Jelley made this print based on Johannes Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring using a camera obscura, as part of the research for her new book Traces of Vermeer (2017). R: Jelley added color to the print, based on Vermeer's original. Images courtesy of Oxford University Press.

L: Jane Jelley made this print based on Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring using a camera obscura, as part of the research for her new book Traces of Vermeer (2017). R: Jelley added color to the print, based on Vermeer’s original. Images courtesy of Oxford University Press.

The first person to raise the possibility that Vermeer used a camera obscura was American artist Joseph Pennell, who in 1891 noticed that the man in the foreground of Officer and Laughing Girl was shown nearly twice as large as the girl he sat facing, in much the same way that such a scene might appear in a photograph.

In 2002, Philip Steadman further explored this theory in Vermeer’s Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces. (It was a lecture by Steadman in 2007 that inspired Jelley to begin the research that led to Traces of Vermeer.)

Johannes Vermeer, Officer and Laughing Girl (c. 1655–60). Courtesy of the Frick Collection, New York.

Johannes Vermeer,
Officer and Laughing Girl (c. 1655–60). Courtesy of the Frick Collection, New York.

Artist David Hockney also famously made his case on the matter, with help with from physicist Charles Falco, in their 2001 book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters. To further his point, Hockney made a number of portraits using the techniques he claimed were employed by the likes of Vermeer.

In her book, Jelley is quick to allay fears that Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura diminishes his genius. Rather, she says, it is an impressive innovation. “The image from the camera obscura is merely a projection. To capture and transfer this to canvas requires skill, judgment, and time; and its product can only ever be part of the process of making a painting,” she writes. “We can never know if Vermeer worked this way; but we should remember that this is not a mindless process, and not a shortcut to success.”

Source : Did Vermeer Trace His Golden Age Masterpieces? An Artist Puts the Theory to the Test | artnet News

The Discovery of Mondrian at The Gemeentemuseum

A rediscovery of Piet Mondrian’s early works shows the Dutch painter in a new lightArt

By Giovanna Dunmall

If you thought Piet Mondrian’s art was all abstract geometric forms and primary colours, a new exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum will have you reconsidering this notion. Upon entering the first room, you spot the still life of a dead hare and faithful recreation of an early morning view of Amsterdam’s famed Singel canal.

The next few halls continue in the same vein, showing dozens of bucolic and, at first glance, traditional landscapes and depictions of the sea, dunes and windmills. In total some 300 of the artist’s works – a quarter of his entire output and almost the entirety of the museum’s Mondrian collection – are on show in the exhibition titled ‘The Discovery of Mondrian.’ Many of them have never seen before by the public, but rediscovered by the museum staff during a massive restoration project between 2009 and 2015.

The little-known early work is important believes curator Hans Janssen, as it shows just how innovative and modern the artist truly was.’ He speaks of the ‘sense of depth’ that carried through to his later work, the visibly sophisticated brushwork techniques (‘the working of the paint’) but also of something else: ‘At first glance some of them look like 19th century rubbish but they have a quality that is very hard to describe and that has to do with a sense of inner self’. Indeed there is a sense of quiet spirituality and optimism that is a constant in all the work, as well as a potent luminosity that lifts the work out of the mundane. (…)

Read more : The Discovery of Mondrian at The Gemeentemuseum | Wallpaper*

Karst, la dimension cassée | Lorient.fr

Karst, la dimension cassée

Exposition du Collectif Multi-Prises

Du 09/06/2017 au 23/07/2017 de 14h00 à 19h00

Exposition Galerie du Faouëdic, 2 boulevard général Leclerc 56100 Lorient, 02 97 02 22 57

L’association Multi-Prises a carte blanche pour s’emparer des murs de la galerie du Faouëdic en proposant une installation immersive. L’exposition vient en contrepoint d’un projet artistique mené auprès des élèves des classes à horaires aménagés musique et danse du collège Anita Conti, en partenariat avec le conservatoire de Lorient.Artistes du collectif engagés dans ce projet : Simon Augade, Thomas Daveluy, Nicolas Desverronières, Nastasja Duthois, Arnaud Goualou, Sylvain Le Corre, Jérémy Leudet, Claire Vergnolle.

Consulter le site du collectif Multi-Prises : http://multi-prises.fr/association/

Du 9 juin au 23 juillet
Du mercredi au dimanche
De 14h à 19h à la galerie du Faouëdic.
Visites commentées par les artistes
11 juin à 17h
4 juillet à 12h30
22 juillet à 17h
Entrée libre

Source : Karst, la dimension cassée | Lorient.fr

Tate Britain brings back labels and rehangs in themes to help audience understand the art

Tate Britain is to rehang its entire collection as it reinstates proper labels explaining what the art is about, it has emerged, as its director says he wants to invite audiences to understand the works properly.

Alex Farquharson, who took over Tate Britain 18 months ago after the surprise departure of Penelope Curtis, said he will be grouping paintings into themes in a bid to improve the audience experience.

Curtis, who departed the gallery for Lisbon in 2015 after five years at the helm, had faced much criticism over her exhibitions, with strident calls for her dismissal described at the time as “verging on a vendetta”.

Her decisions including hanging the Tate Britain collection in chronological order, and overseeing a change in labelling to cut down on information to let visitors interpret more of the art for themselves.

Chris Stevens, curator, explained in 2013: “Your [the audience’s] response is as valid as our knowledge, and this re-hang presents a sort of release for the artist and their work from this encumbrance of academic protocols.” (…)

Lire la suite : Tate Britain brings back labels and rehangs in themes to help audience understand the art

Sylvain Le Corre, entre ode à la Nature et retour aux racines de l’enfance…

Sylvain Le Corre, jeune artiste plasticien lorientais, diplômé de l’Ecole Européenne Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne avec les félicitations du jury nous offre — le mot n’est pas volé — un travail incroyablement poétique et silencieux, comme une promenade en forêt, où le spectateur est tenté de chuchoter pour ne pas réveiller les esprits qui y vivent. Aquarelles, dessins, pièces en volumes sont tous reliés les uns aux autres par un fil telle une soie d’araignée, une aura de douceur et de communion avec la Nature. Ils se parlent et ils nous parlent, ou plutôt, nous chuchotent.

Les petits cadavres d’animaux, réels ou en céramique, si délicats, ne sont aucunement traités avec morbidité mais au contraire, avec une volonté de leur donner une seconde vie, un second souffle. Car toutes ces pièces ont une valeur de témoignages, de vies passées, de vies présentes et de vies futures, toutes si fragiles, auxquelles, c’est maintenant inévitable, nous ferons attention désormais. Et cela fonctionne, on ressort des expositions de Sylvain profondément marqué, non seulement par des images mais aussi par des sensations – on sent la terre, on entend le crissement des insectes – et même emplis de promesses muettes, de souvenirs retrouvés, ou bien même, d’autres encore tout nouveaux, ceux d’une enfance rêvée.

Cette recherche des racines — au propre et au figuré — s’adresse directement à notre inconscient collectif, un retour aux sources en somme, à travers les strates de terre qu’il nous donne à voir dans ses aquarelles et dans ces colonnes, à mi-chemin entre archéologie et jeu, entre pointes de flèches et temps suspendu, passé dans ces observatoires miniatures, refuges entre maisons de poupées et vivariums, le tout présenté avec la minutie des dessins d’observation scientifiques, des planches de botanique et des relevés précis d’oiseaux exotiques aux mille couleurs, tels ceux de Jean-Jacques Audubon.

Et à chaque instant, une pointe d’un humour si élégant et si discret, à l’image de Sylvain lui même.

Découvrez son travail sur ses sites (http://sylvainlecorre.tumblr.com/ et http://sylvainlecorre.wixsite.com/galerie), et venez le vivre en ce moment, à Hennebont, et je suis sûre qu’en posant son regard vers le sol, Sylvain a trouvé désormais son chemin.

« Souterrain »

exposition personnelle,
vernissage vendredi 13 janvier 2017 à 18h
Artothèque / Galerie Pierre Tal-Coat
Hennebont