You can keep your art critics, museum audio tours, and thick history textbooks detailing the techniques and influences of the world’s great artists. As you can tell by a look at our upcoming title, “Art + Travel Europe: Step into the Lives of Five Famous Painters”, we think getting out there and seeing the works and homes of great artists like Goya, Caravaggio, and Vermeer is more important to creating a personal, transcendent experience than many semesters of MFA study. But what happens after that moment of contact between artist and audience? A new documentary making a tour of the festival circuit right now, “Views on Vermeer”, follows the trails of 12 different artists who, having experienced something personal and profound in viewing the Delft master’s work, have transported that inspiration into paintings, photographs, and literary works, each different from the next, but each showing the same imprint of the Dutch painter.
Directed by Netherlands native Hans Pool, “Views on Vermeer” features intimate interviews with creative luminaries such as Chuck Close, Erwin Olaf, Tracy Chevalier (author of the Vermeer-inspired novel “Girl With the Pear Earring”), Peter Webber (who directed the film based on the book), and many others as they follow their first experiences with Vermeer all the way through to the executions of works that would have been impossible without the old master’s influence. While the film also delves into new theories and research on the great painter and his methods, it’s the personal connections that matter here. As photographer Steve McCurry explains how he captured his iconic “Afghan Girl” shot, he draws a straight line from his famous National Geographic cover to “Girl With a Pearl Earring”—an image committed to canvas some 319 years beforehand. Shot with found light, the cinematography of “Views on Vermeer” makes the movie Vermeer-inspired work of art in of itself.
Currently, “Views on Vermeer” is slated to run during the 23rd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November, but we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more convenient screenings in the future. To tour through Vermeer’s life yourself, pre-order a copy of “Art + Travel Europe: Step into the Lives of Five Famous Painters” today.
Above (clockwise from upper left): Detail of “Girl With Pearl Earring”, Joannes Vermeer, 1665, courtesy of The Mauritshuis, The Hague, Tracy Chevalier at Home in “Views on Vermeer”, courtesy of Icarus Films, Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl” in “Views on Vermeer”, courtesy of Icarus Film, Chuck Close at work, from “Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress”, courtesy of MUSE Films.