Tim's Vermeer: Film review - eccentric experiment throws new light on a great master
(12A) Teller, 80 mins
In this intriguing and provocative documentary, a Texas-based inventor paints a version of Vermeer's The Music Lesson in a warehouse in Texas.
At first, Tim Jenison's attitude toward the 17th century Dutch painter seems hostile and reductive. He's a self-confessed "geek", a scientist who was heavily involved in the desktop video revolution. Jenison's goal is to prove that Vermeer used lenses and mirrors and that his technique was essentially "photographic". In other words, Vermeer's work was more to do with reproduction than original artistic inspiration – anyone with his tools could achieve the same effect of extreme verisimilitude and create the illusion of "painting with light".
The director is Jenison's close friend Teller, one half of the magic duo Penn & Teller. This itself causes suspicion. Surely, audiences may think, the film itself is an exercise in legerdemain. As it turns out, Teller's approach is as painstaking as that of Jenison, who ends up spending several years on his Quixotic experiment.
Jenison is clearly extremely rich. That means he has the time to go to Delft to study the light and architecture. He is also a brilliant and dedicated scientist. His fascination with Vermeer was sparked when his daughter gave him a book on the artist by David Hockney (who features prominently in the documentary).
Ironically, the longer Jenison spends on trying to paint like a Dutch master , the more mysterious Vermeer's genius seems. This is not a case of a master forger dashing off a quick copy. Jenison's experiment is an act of homage, not one of debunking. He gives us greater insight into the methods of the artist than we are ever likely to receive from a conventional art historian.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men