….courtesy of John Luna, who is giving a series of three lectures this month at the Vancouver Island School of Art. (John reminds me of the writer, Adam Gopnik. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of art, history, philosophy, literature….His lectures are dense, entertaining and fast-moving. I certainly didn’t understand all the references, but I enjoyed the experience! The lecture was entitled “Empty glances: photography, painting, witness and imagination.”)
The first idea is pretty obvious, once you think about it….but it hadn’t ever occurred to me before. All of those still life paintings, and domestic scenes in Dutch painting of the 17th century are a direct result of the Protestant Reformation. The Biblical scenes and the saints were left to the Catholics. The Protestants, and the humanists, had to find new material.
The second idea came from a viewing of Vermeer’s painting Woman with a Pearl Necklace. ( I wasn’t familiar with this painting, and immediately thought of Girl with a Pearl Earring.)
John pointed out that Siri Hustvedt, in Mysteries of the Rectangle, hypothesizes that this is a coded Annunciation painting. I find that a fascinating idea.
As with all of Vermeer’s painting (all being a mere 36 in known existence) light, perspective, shadow, framing and editing are paramount. The first time Ms Hustvedt saw this painting, she spent four hours looking at it. It’s a hint, perhaps, of what we might see if we gave artworks more time and attention.