TEN STARS - Now this is something I have NEVER seen before! (by martijn-56)
There are endless debates going on about whether Vermeer is the best or Rembrandt. We cannot dispute taste, but in the end of this documentary to me at least the mystery of Vermeer is partly solved, that of Rembrandt remains. Tim himself said it eloquently, that art should not have to be separate from technique. A painting is a document, regardless if it was made with optical help. Seeing Vermeer or Rembrandt in a museum, does that give us the sensation of cheating? No. Tim, an inventor, has the wonderful obsession to recreate a Vermeer with optical techniques that help him to paint details <more>
on canvas that would otherwise not be possible to discern. We see the whole process of reconstructing the room Vermeer used to paint, his techniques of mixing paint and all the way to the optics he very likely must have used. The obsession and love for Vermeer that Tim has is contagious and it makes it immediately one of my favorite documentaries in decades. What made me convinced Vermeer must have painted like Tim did, is the comment by an optical specialist made that no humans with super retina's exist. Well, Rembrandt did, but it made me doubt when it came to Vermeer. The thing is, there are no sketches to be found behind Vermeer's paintwork, as infrared research shows. Rembrandt, who actually also has many works of astounding detail in miniature form paintings of his mother reading the bible for instance , always sketched outlines first, which he often erased and changed, like any drawing is made. Rembrandt probably had a staggering talent plus the obstinacy of Vermeer, while Vermeer might have just had the patience. Tim also discovered while painting his Vermeer that some crooked lines and patterns should have been straight and vice versa. This was probably caused by the fact that Vermeer made the same mistake as he did, while using the optical tools. What tipped the balance in favor of Rembrandt as the still unexplained mystery to me is that Vermeer used very often a similar style and composition, which might shed light on the fact he was more a Tim than a real artist. Rembrandt often changed style, getting more and more impressionistic, or less is more, which is also proof of his artistry and drawing talent. Vermeer must have used mechanical devices to make his works. This explains his virtually unchanged style, but also the fact that he only made 35 works or so. They must have taken a lot of time! Interestingly enough, through Tim's records we get an indication it might have taken Vermeer three months at least to finish one painting. There is only one 'but' – it remains for instance a mystery how Vermeer painted his View of Delft, or the Street Of Delft, both scenes outside his home. I cannot see how mirrors would have done the job of changing clouds.Of course no one of us were there, but it seems to me Vermeer despite the stunning quality of this work had "only" one repertoire – he stuck to the beautiful compositions before him, and rendered these scenes in photographic realism. Rembrandt went further than 'just' the view in front of him. He magnified aspects, and left others out, making a picture of reality that we cannot find in the world, but nevertheless recognize – real art to me. Just like a movie can be a meaningful slice out of life, but never is life. Like Shakespeare, Rembrandt used dark and light, as a metaphor for our short existence flash in the darkness, life in the violent universe, you pick your metaphor . He also succeeded in painting mainly ugly people in such a grand way that they, just like in Shakespeare's plays, became just like mankind itself, somehow even more impressive, in all their hubris, flaws and limitations. Vermeer never reaches this level to me. Take Rembrandt's Batseba in the Louvre, her sad and serene expression go so much further in telling a story that is so much more than just the picture. Don't take me wrong, I consider Vermeer the absolute number two on the all-time artist list. Vermeer made time stand still. It is funny to know that probably the paintings you see of him actually really looked like that then. Comparing Rembrandt and Vermeer is like combining Wagner and Vivaldi in music, both skillful and both making great music, but Vermeer like Vivaldi seems to me not able to ever go further than the level of 'light entertainment'. With Vermeer art seems to perfectly imitate life, a stunning accomplishment for someone with only 17th century tools! But Rembrandt painted in superlatives to me. He gave human beings somehow a super reality, which to me is art being bigger than life. Rembrandt had not only skill like Vermeer, but also a vision, which for me raised the bar of what humans can do, how we see life, how in fact the universe reflexes on itself via our best art. Trying to recapture the magic of old masters, the mystery of "how did they do it" remains. Take for instance the Danae by Rembrandt. When it was destroyed in St Petersburg, even after twelve years of restoring, no one could recapture the golden haze emanating from the original Rembrandt. But although Vermeer painted in light and not in gold and dark, Tim shows actually it can be done. Maybe all this documentary is, is an ode to Vermeer and any great artist that wants to do the impossible. The end result of Tim's painting is more than stunning and it makes us think: if a Vermeer can be made through plain perseverance with the help of mechanical means, would he indeed have cheated? In the end it might not matter, since both the sheer beauty of composition and detail will enchant us forever.
" . . . My Masterpiece," written and wailed by Bob Dylan, sums up the documentary film TIM'S VERMEER during its closing credits. TIM'S VERMEER proves that an obsessive\compulsive OCD rich guy with too much time on his hands CAN create a passable forgery of ONE painting by the 17th Century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer IF he has a steady hand, great eyesight, and five years to kill. Who else has so much time to waste? Since Tim Jenison is based down here in Texas where we have tons of prison inmates, I think Tim should set up programs at each of our penitentiaries wherein <more>
select convicts could earn their 25-cent hourly wage by painting "Vermeers," which could then be sold at the bargain rate of $1 or $2 million each. Once our state rainy day fund is adequate, the balance of our annual net profit on Vermeer sales could be divided equally between all the Texas landowners who have been here since 1983, like they do with oil royalties in Alaska already. This way, each qualified Texan would receive a yearly "Vermeer check," assuming Mr. Jenison donates his patent on "Vermeerification" to the state which has given him a home: Texas.
I've watched this film many times because it is in itself a masterpiece. I'm a fan of Vermeer and this film attempts to divulge that it would be nearly impossible for any artist to create the works that Vermeer did without some kind of assistance.One aspect is that Vermeer did not sketch this work beneath the paint; something always found within other works by other renowned artists. As pointed out, microscopic tests suggest that Vermeer painted without having drawn anything on the canvas of this particular work, "Music Lesson".It is captivating to see how a modern day man <more>
can mix pigments to make paint as it was made in the 1600's, no less that he could re-create a masterpiece in modern times as exact as well. The attention to details by erecting a room that was so much like the original is simply amazing.This is a must see film for anyone who enjoys art and especially those of the great masters. It does question how great they really were, given that a priceless artwork can indeed be reproduced in what can only be called, "brilliant". However given that we can "copy" such works, they are still appreciated as masterpieces no matter how they were created. Does age alone make such works stunning or valuable? Perhaps yes. Were the artists that great? Perhaps no. Either way, this film is an incredible view from the perspective of the only man who has challenged what we thought we knew. It is up to the observer to decide the truths.
As a lifelong draw-er, painter and former professional visual artist, I have absolutely no problem with the idea that Vermeer used optical tools to create his masterpieces. Invention is creation every bit as much as art maybe more . It does not diminish Vemeer's "genius" to think of him as more 'tinkerer' than virtuoso, it just redirects it a bit. I have to admit that before watching this film I had not given much thought to the tools that Vemeer may have used, other than assuming that camera obscura was employed at some point. After considering the level of detail <more>
involved, and the lighting intricacies that he so aptly caught, it seems entirely reasonable but not proved to believe that other assists were involved as well.The one thing the film overlooks, and the reason I didn't give it 10 stars, was that Vemeer no doubt possessed tremendous drawing ability and training in other traditional skills which Tim did not. Such skills would have enabled him to bridge the gap between human camera and inexplicable genius. For example, he would have inherently caught things like broken perspective early on, and he would have wielded his tools with emotion and insight which Tim did not possess. He was, at heart, a true artist, and much more than just an eccentric millionaire with an odd hobby. So the answer to which tools he used, as interesting as it is to think about, is really little more than a bit of trivia. Because it doesn't matter if it's optics or inspiration, mechanics or expression, in the end if it's interesting to look at if it moves people, then it's great art.
For the art students and documentary fans, this one is for you (by StevePulaski)
Tim's Vermeer is a wonderfully entertaining story about personal passion and obsession and the crossroads where technology and art meet rather than stay apart from each other, a concept that some fear to be anecdotal in the analysis and appreciation for art. The film focuses on Tim Jenison, an accomplished inventor and founder of the hardware/software company NewTek, who has grown to become increasingly fascinated with the works of Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer is one of the most subversive painters in history, with many art critics and scholars citing him as the <more>
greatest painter of all time. Vermeer's paintings have taken on a life of their own in recent time because of the beauty they bear in terms of lighting and clarity, in an era where cameras didn't exist. His techniques and even his personal life are still largely a mystery today, and Tim's Vermeer shows that one man may have an idea how he did it all.Tim proposes the idea that, as unique as it would've been for Vermeer to walk up to a blank canvas and begin painting the photo-realistic paintings he became known for, some technology, even as primitive as it could be classified, had to be involved. Narrator Penn Jillette of the magician duo Penn & Teller with Teller serving as the documentary's director tells us of a device known as "camera obscura," which is Dutch for "dark room." The device is a box that could be of any size - from as small as a shoebox to as big as being able to house a person inside - that would have a small hole drilled in it to fit a circular lens inside. It would project whatever was outside of the box into the dark interior of the box in an upside down, backwards state; one would curve the lens to reposition and resize the subject inside the box.Tim believes that, despite the device being common during the time, it would've been difficult for Vermeer to paint something as deep and intricate as what he did on a small-scale canvas or in a room of little light. What he manages to create is his own kind of "camera obscura," with mirrors and lenses that have the same sort of basic imperfections, shortcomings, but in addition, wondrous advances as Vermeer could've dealt with in 17th Century Dutch. Confident after speaking to art curators and professionals that share his feelings that he's on to something remarkable, Tim decides to sit down, with his creation of mirrors and lenses, and try to copy one of Vermeer's paintings. He goes as far as to renting a warehouse and constructing it like the room in Vermeer's painting, which was the north-facing room on the second story of his home. He goes back to use the 17th Century lenses of the time and even works to grinding his own paint, rather than using the paint one could easily by at a store for hobbyists. What unfolds is one of the most fascinating documentaries about art I have yet to see.The film is a perfect showcase for somebody who is operating in a very advanced league in the computer graphics and software industry, who bears a fascination of where his medium originated. In turn, he decides to go back in time and see how the pioneers of their time operated and worked to create the hard we cherish today. It's the classic example of someone going back and learning the roots of the medium they love; a necessity, considering things are progressing at such a rapid rate these days it's difficult to keep track of things.Second-time director Teller shows just what a grueling and meticulous process replicating an intricate painting is for Tim, who is operating by his own set of specific rules he has to follow cannot use modern equipment of any kind, he must paint what he sees in the mirror to assure he's painting as if he was Vermeer during the time period, etc . We assume Tim must be a very relaxed and gentle man, rarely getting frazzled and taking his time with such an elaborate painting, careful not to rush or shortchange any element of the work. It becomes clear that his passion begins to rework itself and become a full-fledged obsession.Tim's Vermeer seals the deal by adding in ideas and thoughtful discussion points about the role technology and technological advances play in art and how optical machines were used in art, despite some carrying the idea that painters painted straight from their imagination. In addition, the film works to humanize the unfairly ridiculed and shortchanged field of study that is art history, effectively giving it a much-needed leverage in terms of thought and complexity. And, in short, the film is an unexpectedly entertaining dive into the ideas of passion and obsession, art and technology, and devotion and determination.Starring: Tim Jenison. Directed by: Teller.
simply astounding, both for the unraveling of the mystery of Vermeer and it's implications for the meaning of art (by trelerke-politics)
a seemingly flatly told, casual little story that is anything but. The scientific method is at play here, full stop. Tim Denison had a theory about how Vermeer painted and wanted to assess whether this theory was true, he controlled all the conditions he possibly could and by doing so, ruled out possible alternative explanations, well, as much as is probably do-able. The main premise is that Vermeer used optical methods to produce his vibrating, amazingly photographic/life like images. Tim, with absolutely no training or experience with almost anything to do with painting went about <more>
reproducing a Vermeer, he learned wood working, traditional paint mixing, lens grinding etc so he could recreate the tableau that Vermeer used as exactly as possible. As we know almost nothing about Vermeer's method, Tim had to figure out what was possible given the technology of the day, and he essentially did, you need to see the movie to see what actually happened. Suffice it to say, this untrained but incredibly dogged and creative/inventive man managed to reproduce a master work from one of the greatest of the European painters. The details, figures, shading are simply miraculous! The implications are enormous and in no way detracts from Vermeer's genius. Even today Tim could have just kept this method to himself and produced a bunch of new paintings of whatever he wanted and these would be hailed as extraordinary works of art because NO ONE besides Vermeer ever got close to this level of painting, obviously Tim is not inspired by such notoriety or need for money. Thus, a new way of seeing the world is made manifest.
Watching this film is a virtual art course in itself. Tim Jenison takes us on a search for the secrets of Dutch artist Vermeer's tremendous use of light in his art work. He researches early applications of the so called camera obscura and the use of lenses. He comes up with a possible theory of how Vermeer painted and then gets to work confirming his theory. His first test is a simple mirror reflecting an object onto a canvas. He experiments with this and confirms his thesis. He then decides to apply his model to recreating one of Vermeer's masterpieces. The outcome is sensational. <more>
The movie shows all the various constructional aspects, which as an engineer I really love. I kept wanting to get up out of my seat and start building a similar model. The detail which he went to in order to recreate the scene of the painting was astounding.
Interesting "home movie" about a man's obsession (by mv-at-last)
This is a fascinating, laid-back look at one man's obsession in figuring out how Vermeer painted so realistically. Whether his conclusion is accurate or not is irrelevant: the film is worth watching to trace his obsessive journey to find "the truth". There is humour in this film and a wonderful cameo from English painter David Hockney. The film has a bit of a home movie feel to it: producer and director Penn & Teller obviously knew Tim Jenison, the movie's subject, and decided his quirky story was worth telling. The film is enhanced by a charming yet unobtrusive musical <more>
score, primarily flute and piano. You know when people tell you to 'follow your dream'? This guy did and entertained us along the way.
US inventor recreates Vermeer painting (by maurice_yacowar)
The Penn and Teller film Penn talks, Teller directs Tim's Vermeer is a rapturous demonstration of one man's magnificent obsession. It's also very, very funny. The plot has the San Antonio inventor but non-artist Tim Jenison prove that the unprecedented detail of a Vermeer painting could perhaps only be done with a mechanical device. He builds one, makes his own lenses, grinds his own period paints and then laboriously but precisely paints his own Vermeer. QED. But the theme of the film might be the contemporary dissociation of sensibility. T.S. Eliot coined that term to describe <more>
the split between reason and the emotional life that happened between the Metaphysical Poets and the Victorians. But the phrase could equally apply to the contemporary split between art and technology. Vermeer is no less an artist — indeed arguably an even more impressive intelligence and craftsman — for having devised some mechanical supplement for his painting, perhaps along the lines of Jenison's. And Jenison's technical brilliance and craft should surely not disqualify him from the title "artist." His sharp eye and scrupulously detailed mark-making deserve no lesser title. Perhaps it was that confluence of art and science that attracted the brilliant team of magicians to the project. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.com.