|Johannes Vermeer is one of the most loved, treasured and well-known artists in the world today. Images from his paintings have become part of our collective imagination and are instantly recognisable.
In his new feature documentary, Vermeer, Beyond Time, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Cottet adopts an imaginative and sensitive approach to his subject focusing on the work itself but also choosing to explore Vermeer’s family life including his conversion to Catholicism, his artistic contemporaries and the wider world of the short lived Dutch Golden Age of the 17th Century.
Cottet’s film explores the individual paintings and teases out what has come to be known as the Vermeer style; the representation of light, the interplay of colour and the effects of perspective across the same themes, places and objects.
Vermeer’s paintings are of a world inhabited by refined and cultivated women; respectful or troublesome servants; charming young people and learned men. His ruthless elimination of objects and things that serve no purpose results in an art that suspends time and that leaves us, the viewer, always wanting to know more. The film adds much to our understanding and knowledge of the painter, while still allowing for the mystery and allure of his art.
Vermeer’s death in 1675 is sudden and incredibly sad. Overwhelmed by poverty, physically weakened and humiliated, he dies at the age of 45. Soon afterwards, his paintings are sold to cover his debts. Vermeer disappears from memory. His rediscovery some 200 years later has seen his popularity soar, claiming both our hearts and our admiration.
The release of Vermeer, Beyond Time coincides with the opening of Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, a major exhibition of work by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin on Saturday June 17, 2017. The internationally acclaimed exhibition of work by Vermeer and his contemporaries runs for three months. This is an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity to see ten of Vermeer’s superb artworks in one exhibition, almost a third of his surviving paintings. The exhibition, curated by Dr Adriaan E. Waiboer, Head of Collections and Research at the National Gallery of Ireland, brings together some 60 paintings by the greatest artists of the Dutch Golden Age (1650 – 1675) and explores how Vermeer and his contemporaries vied to surpass each other’s work, their creative rivalry inspiring each one to strive for perfection, resulting in artworks of exceptional quality, technical brilliance and breath-taking beauty.
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry opens at the National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin on Saturday June 17th, 2017. www.nationalgallery.ie