Watch Tim's Vermeer
- 1 hr 20 min
Tim's Vermeer is a 2013 documentary film directed and produced by Teller and Penn Jillette, the famous magician duo. The film follows the story of Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, as he embarks on a quest to uncover the secret behind one of the great mysteries of art history: how did Johannes Vermeer manage to produce his remarkable paintings with such photographic realism over three centuries ago?
Jenison, who made a fortune by developing computer software and hardware products, developed a fascination for Vermeer's paintings after reading a book by David Hockney, titled "Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters", which suggested that some of the great artists of the past may have used optical devices to help them with their work. Jenison became convinced that Vermeer used a camera obscura, a device that projects an image of the outside world through a pinhole or lens onto a screen inside a darkened room, as a kind of early photographic aid to help him create his paintings.
Determined to prove his theory, Jenison decided to recreate one of Vermeer's masterpieces, "The Music Lesson," from scratch. But instead of relying on his artistic talents or copying the painting by hand, Jenison decided to use his own invention, a lens mechanism that he had designed to help people with poor vision, to trace the image of the painting onto a canvas in real time, just like an early camera obscura would have done. The resulting image was a black and white blur, but Jenison was able to use it as a base layer for his painting, building up the colors and details layer by layer, just as Vermeer would have done.
Jenison's experiment took him to the Netherlands, where he studied Vermeer's life and times, visited the places where he lived and worked, and got access to his original paintings and tools. With the help of a few skilled painters, including his daughter and his friend Martin Mull, who played the part of Vermeer in a reconstruction of a painting session, Jenison spent months meticulously recreating "The Music Lesson" in his own studio in Texas. He was determined to use the same materials that Vermeer would have used in his paintings, including handmade pigments, a camera obscura, and a palate of colors that he mixed himself, using various recipes based on historical records.
Throughout the film, we see Jenison's struggle to master the techniques of painting and his determination to overcome the obstacles that he encountered along the way. We also see his passion for Vermeer's paintings and his infectious enthusiasm for his project, which draws in many people along the way, including his wife and daughter, who help him with his work, Penn Jillette, who acts as a kind of facilitator and commentator, and Mull, who provides some comic relief and moral support.
The film is a fascinating exploration of the creative process and the intersection of art and technology. It raises many thought-provoking questions about the nature of art, the role of technology in the creative process, and the way that artists throughout history have been influenced by the tools and techniques available to them. It also sheds new light on the work of Vermeer, one of the most enigmatic and elusive artists of all time, revealing the incredible skill and ingenuity that went into his paintings and the ways in which they continue to captivate and inspire people today.
Overall, Tim's Vermeer is a compelling and entertaining film that will appeal to anyone with an interest in art, technology, and the creative process. It is a testament to the power of human curiosity and ingenuity, and a reminder that sometimes the greatest discoveries are made not by geniuses or experts, but by ordinary people who are willing to follow their passions and trust in their own abilities.
Tim's Vermeer is a 2014 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 20 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.8 and a MetaScore of 76.