Friday, January 31, 2014

Deconstructing (or Attempting to) a Master Painter in 'Tim's Vermeer'

Tim Jenison trying to retrace Vermeer's footsteps, as it were, in "Tim's Vermeer." Photo from Sony Pictures Classics.

ON the surface, a film about the process of a 17th-century painter sounds about as interesting as the notion of … well … watching paint dry, right?

Of course, that is until one considers "Tim's Vermeer." The documentary film, from Penn&Teller and Farley Ziegler, chronicles the eight-year-long odyssey of inventor Tim Jenison to prove a hypothesis about Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

In essence, that the visionary artist and longtime unsung hero used advanced technologies of his day to create the quality of light and detail for which his works are renown. TJ isn't the first to hoe in these rows, but this is the first documentary on the subject.

TJ, an innovator in his own right as the man behind DigiPaint and other digital essentials, is "proposing an alternate history of Vermeer." Here is an interesting historical account that unfolds like a mystery along the lines of Agatha Christie's “Miss Marple” or Hercule Poirot. If it where a book, this HowHeDunit, would be a pageturner.

Interestingly enough, TJ disclosed to journalists at a press conference after a screening of “Tim's Vermeer” at the 51st New York Film Festival where it made it U.S. debut, he did not receive the drubbing he expected from art purists. “I was a little afraid, at first,” he smirked.

Fear aside he plowed along and makes a strong case that Vermeer was the original paint-by-numbers guy, even possibly winning over no less a personage than David Hockney. The gravy for TJ, though, was his meeting with the curator of the collection owned by Queen Elizabeth. The collection includes "The Girl With a Pearl Earring."

When TJ explained his theories to the Queen's Keeper or Her Art, the scholar found them utterly fascinating. "He got it," TJ fairly beamed.

“Tim's Vermeer is rated PG-13 for some strong language; visit to learn more about the film.

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