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.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Harris' List of Covent Garden Ladies: Georgian guide to London sex workers acquired by Wellcome Collection
House of Cards season 3: Claire Underwood is based on an eagle, says Robin Wright
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut