May 23, 2011
Hendrik Kersten is a photograph who works in Amsterdam and uses his daughter and his model to evoke a past period already long gone but which can be seen through the art of paintors as Vermeer. Kersten’s style immeditately makes the viewer think about Vermeer.
He uses modern objects to decorate his daughter, Paula, such as plastic bags, hoodies, lamps, toilet paper or towels, among other ordinary objects that may be found in any house. Kersten’s work was published in “Dutch Seen: New York Rediscovered”.
Another images which depict the Dutch’s painter’s style is through Matt Groening, the famour creator of the Simpsons, whose characters were used to recreate old legends such as The Girl with a Pearl Earring. It is a young painter named David Barton.
Following the same style with other painters: Willie the Scottish man in Van Gogh’s Self Portret
Apu as Dalí
Homer as Rembrant
- http://sloblogs.thetribunenews.com/shelikestowatch/tag/vermeer/ (22/05/2011, 15.00)
- http://www.blending-mashine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/simpsons_apu_dali_art.jpg (22/05/2011, 15.00)
- http://designrelated.tv/inspiration/simpons%20art%20masterpieces/homer_simpson_rembrandt.jpg (22/05/2011, 15.05)
- http://www.limpfish.com/b3ta/marge_small.jpg (22/05/2011, 15.05)
- http://www.bronx.com/news/Art/611.html (22/05/2011, 15.05)
May 23, 2011
This is the story I wrote for Claire, with this the analysis I have already published should make sense.
Magic Mirror in the Wall
Lucette had just left her bedroom, leaving Merel in bed. Merel opened first one eye, and then the other, it was so warm under the covers, she could not even think about getting up. She always wondered why days would come so fast each morning. The morning noises started to invade her bedroom little by little, her sisters would probably be already up, it was her honour and curse to be always the last one at the breakfast table, she was also everyone’s favourite, so she took advantage of the situation.
Merel sat in bed and saw a thin but strong ray of sunshine entering the bedroom through her window, designing new shapes and shades with the objects on her table. For some reason she felt happier. Winter had just left, and it was not until mid spring that they were offered sunny days like that one.
Merel waited for Lucette to come back and help her with her dress. Her wardrobe was full of dresses bought and chosen by her mother, only Alessandra, her eldest sister, could choose the colour of her dresses, she was considered to be old enough. Mother certainly loved yellow. Merel was sure it was because of the colour of the sun, and the lack of it in Delft. Mother use to tell them they were the sunshines of the city. Merel loved to hear that, and she enjoyed running with her sisters in the parks of the city, as petals sliding above the lawn. She opened the window and took a deep breath of the fresh air that flew just outside her window, as if invisible birds flapped their wings for her. It was quite cold, so she half closed the window again. Lucette came into the bedroom and smiled, surprised Merel was already up. She normally had to enter two or three times before the youngest lady of the house would get up. Her wardrobe was full of blue, pale rose and yellow dresses, a few of them were green, which Merel had taken from her eldest sister because they did not fit her anymore.
‘Which colour are you feeling today, miss Merel?
‘It looks like a promising wonderful day, doesn’t it? I believe Madam will make the kitchen prepare some sandwiches and you’ll spend the day outside. It will do you good, miss Merel! You are looking paler and paler each day!
Merel made a grimace and looked at her reflection in the mirror. No, she didn’t. Or perhaps she did, but it was the cloudy and depressing weather, it wasn’t her fault. Lucette had told her plenty of times that she was made to live in a southern country, where it never rained, and warm nature would embrace and welcome her everyday. But her mother, on the other hand had always whispered in her ear, that the paler she looked, the more beautiful she was. Merel had heard her mother had milk bathes, but she could not believe it, because when she ordered Lucette to prepare her a milk bath, Lucette had laughed and refused to do so. Merel at the time had been a child, sweet nine years old. She was fourteen now, a mature and full grown up person.
‘Did I tell you my sister is getting married? To that Scottish sailor I told you about. He has these crazy ideas and promises that my poor sister believes with no hesitation. Don’t listen to men, Miss Merel! All lies, all lies, they only want to use you for children.
Merel smiled. Lucette had a huge balloon about to explode in less than two months time. How could old people say one thing and then do another completely different?
‘That Scottish fellow wants to take her halfway around the world. She will not like it, believe me Miss Merel.’ Lucette finished doing up the last button on the back of her dress. ‘What do you want today for your hair? Would you like me to make a bun and use the grey and red ribbon to make it still?
‘Yes please, Lucette.’
‘Could you sit down in this chair, please Miss Merel? Here, I’ll move this dirty laundry, I’ll bring it downstairs later,’ she put it on the table and Merel sat down on the chair next to her bed, while Lucette sat on her bed ‘I need to sit down, this baby will end up killing me. Listen to my piece of advice Miss Merel, no man is good influence. Look! Look the state I am now!’
‘But aren’t you happy Lucette?’
‘Oh… well, yes. But that is not the point! It’s nine months of suffering they don’t have to endure! You will see, and you will remember my words sweet miss! My sister met this man on the port one day she was on her way to work, and now they are getting married! When I was her age things did not happen that way!’ Lucette was the eldest of five, and she was ten years older than her sister. ‘There! Finished! Don’t forget to wash your face before coming downstairs for breakfast. And put some colour child, or you will vanish!’
Lucette closed the door, forgetting to take with her the dirty laundry. Merel shrugged, she would have to come upstairs to make her bed anyway and then, she would probably see it. She put on her yellow fur jacket and she rolled up her sleeves. She looked at herself in the water basin, touching the water with the point of her index, changing her image over and over again. Was she that pale? And did it matter? Wasn’t she the most charming young lady of the house? She plashed a good amount of water and a little moan escaped her lips. It was too cold, Lucette had probably put it there first thing that morning, when the house was still not warmed up. Lucette used to do that type of things, she knew Merel would not complain and she was so slow in the mornings, that from time to time she needed freezing water to wake her up. She felt much better. She looked at her face in the little mirror in front of her and smiled. She had never liked her mouth, the awful teeth, as if each of them had sprouted after she lost her milk teeth. And still, her smile was considered one of the most charming smiles of the promising ladies of Delft. Lucette said it was her eyes, which glittered at the same time she smiled, and people did not pay attention to her mouth when they were dazzled by her gaze.
Lucette had left the brush on the table. Merel took the powder blush which was next to the window and with the brush she dressed her cheeks with the colour of summer. Alessandra had taught her that he redder the colour, the more attention would be drawn on her, so Merel knew she had to apply a little bit of brown pearl and a touch of red. Her mother had forced her older sisters and her to wear jewellery since they turned twelve. Twelve was the time when girls became young ladies in her family, so Merel had been used to wearing diamonds, blue agate, and magic pearls for two years. She loved her pearl necklace; her father had given it to her when she turned thirteen. It did not matter her face was pale, as long as she wore that pearl necklace, she knew she was invincible. Merel often wondered who had found each pearl, where had it been made and the story of how her favourite piece of jewellery had been created. She had asked her father, but he did not know the answer. By the time she was ready to go down to have breakfast, the sweet sentence Lucette had told her since she was a child popped in her mind:
‘Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’
She smiled happily, it had been a while since she last thought about that. Lucette had told her, it had been her own mother who used to tell her that when she was a child. Merel probably will tell that to her daughters when she would brush their hair in front of the mirror. She would of course have Lucette helping her when her girls would be babies, and then Lucette would turn them into little women and Alessandra would teach them how to put their make up on, and they would also be friends with Lucette’s children. She smiled at her reflection. Maybe someday, someone would write a story with that same sentence. But for the time being she was happy to have a magic mirror, a sweet Lucette, yellow dresses, Alessandra’s advices for young ladies, a common smile and glittering eyes. It was going to be a wonderful spring day.
May 21, 2011
I chose this painting because it was one of the few ones that I had not seen before and for some reason I liked it. I like how the girl is looking at herself, I like that she is not particularly beautiful and I enjoy all the little details in the room around her. It is probably the details that I most enjoy in Vermeer’s paintings.
First of all I looked for a long time to the painting to try and inspire myself, to try and discover objects which could create a story. I started to write the story a day later, when I had in mind all the details of the painting, to create a story the writer needs to know many more features about the character than the ones that are introduced, the better the writer understand the characters it has created, the better the story should be. So I will be analysing the painting as I analyse the elements of my story.
So, when I had understood and thought about all the objects in the room, I started to choose which objects I should include in my short story. I would of course mention the window, which Vermeer used in almost all his paintings, the mirror in which the girl looks at herself, because even if it is small it is a very important part of the scene, the basin, the chair, the dark clothes on the table, her red ribbon, the chair on her left and the yellow fur, although I will only focus in the elements which are more important in my tale. I have included most of the objects on the painting, and as they are part of everyday life, because Vermeer painted the objects in his house, it is quite easy to include them in a narrative about life in a moment of a young girl’s life.
I looked for information about the mirror, which without the scene will acquire a totally different light and tone. Mirror were started to develop and become popular in the 14th century, it was in Venice and Spain were the masters of this art lived. It was not until Renaissance that painters started to use it in their oeuvres. They discovered that through they had a new vision of life, reality could be looked at in a new way, and maybe through mirrors the point of view could be even more realistic. They also became great tools of thought, and that is precisely what the girl in my painting is doing, while she is putting her pearl necklace she is also wondering.
Another object that I use a lot is the yellow jacket fur that the girl is wearing and the type of dresses that women used to wear at that time. It was very typical to have three quarter length sleeves, as the jacket shows. The dress under it is wide and large and does not show if the women were pregnant, although it can be disorienting for the viewer, it was not popular at the time to show pregnant women in paintings. I also mention the girl’s hair style, which is worn as in the period, in a bun and although it was more common to have a few curls hanging, Vermeer represents that style on the hair of other women in his paintings. It was also very common to cover women’s hair with a cap, and hence, showing it, it means that this girl is part of the upper class society.
I write about a short scene when the girl has just woken up, and the chair on her left, which appears to be from Spanish origin, has a little importance in the main character’s routine. Quite a few writers believe that that particular chair that appears in many of Vermeer’s paintings, is the presence of a man, out of the picture at that moment, but there are no historical evidences to support that theory. Freud once said “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”, so maybe a chair in Vermeer’s paintings it is just a chair. Neutron autoradiography has shown that in the beginning the painter had drawn an instrument on that empty chair. If it had remained it would probably have given a totally different light to the scene and I would have written a different story. “The chair activates an almost physical sensation of depth to the mass of dark paint in the lower half of the composition which would have otherwise appeared flat and nondescript”. (Essential Vermeer) To portrait a chair in a painting was also a manner to show the girl’s social rank, which has already been established by the way she has her hair done and the type of dress she is wearing. That precise chair, which also appears in Woman in Blue Reading a Letter is clearly a bourgeois piece of furniture.
And finally the pearls, which close the story, appear quite frequently throughout Vermeer’s paintings. That is why by writing about them at the end I tried to give them some kind of importance. Pearls have been a source of fascination for centuries, they are created in deep sea by certain molluscs, they are perfectly round and they pale colour has been admired for decades. There are a few myth regarding pearls, some consider them to posses medicinal and talismanic powers. In Christianity, wearing pearls is also symbolic and many literature movements and art references have portrait them. In China pearls are related to the moon, which is very understandable. The legend says that the first pearl was born because of the moon, becoming one of the four beauties in the history of China.
What I enjoyed the most about this painting is not what can be clearly seen, as the objects, whose meaning is obvious, but what the objects, the girl’s face, her dress and the room as a whole suggest. It was quite easy to invent a story about such a peaceful scene, taking the subtle indicators which Vermeer left to use as an inspiration tool.
- http://thinking-about-art.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-glass-mirrors-changed-art.html (29/04/2011, 12.30)
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1650%E2%80%931700_in_fashion (29/04/2011, 12.55)
- http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/woman_with_a_pearl_necklace.html (30/04/2011, 16.00)
- http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/woman_in_blue_reading_a_letter.html (30/04/2011, 16.10)
- http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/lady_writing.html (02/05/2011, 17.30)
- http://www.articlekingpro.com/Article/Pearls-In-Art-And-Literature/443420 (02/05/2011, 17.40)
- http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:JRGfM1rBdYwJ:www.articlekingpro.com/Article/Pearls-In-Art-And-Literature/443420+pearls+in+art&cd=5&hl=es&ct=clnk&gl=es&source=www.google.es (05/05/2011, 16.00)