It wasn’t exactly planned as perfectly as one might think, but the latest in the Cineplex Exhibition series (following looks at Manet and Munch earlier this year), dedicated to looking at classic works of art in galleries around the world couldn’t be coming at a better time. After the highly buzzworthy debut of Penn and Teller’s documentary about art frauds, Tim’s Vermeer, and the continued success of the novel and 2003 film Girl with a Pearl Earring, this look at the works of Johannes Vermeer from a recent exhibition at the National Gallery in London should give curious, expert, or neophyte art aficionados a reasonably in-depth look into one of the world’s still most mysterious and elusive painters.
Titled Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure, the exhibition seeks to look at the connection between the artist and the music that was such a massive part of Dutch culture in the 17th century. Often looking at the very nature of harmony in his often open to interpretation works, Vermeer captured how music was able to positively impact upon one of the world’s first almost exclusively urban societies. To underline the importance of music, many of Vermeer’s never actually titled works have the period appropriate instruments depicted therein on display alongside for further detail.
Of the only 30 or so known remaining paintings from Vermeer, 12 of them deal almost exclusively with musical themes, making it the most common and obvious subject showcased in his work. That doesn’t mean his other works are glossed over, however. With help from experts, musicians, and admirers – including National Gallery curator Betsy Wiseman and Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier – viewers are given a look back on all of the works in a collection that finds many pieces making rare appearances alongside other works of the artist that have never been in the same place at the same time before. Going back to his early and most likely commissioned religious pieces, the big screen tour through the gallery is quite encompassing.
“This gives audiences a chance to experience the exhibition in ways they might not be able to if they saw it in the gallery, with the narration and the rich history of art that’s being talked about,” said Cineplex Communications Director Mike Langdon during a recent chat, and he’s really spot on. More than just a documentary or looking at static paintings set to music without much meaning, this in theatre experience feels like an immersive and genuinely interesting, unstuffy art history lesson. It’s a really warm and richly detailed analysis and exploration of art that never presumes to know all the answers about Vermeer’s intentions. It’s actually quite special.
Exhibition: Vermeer and Music will screen at select Cineplex locations on Thursday, October 10th, Sunday, November 3rd, and Saturday, November 23rd. Additional screenings will take place the Cineplex Odeon Yonge and Dundas throughout October on select dates. For more information and tickets, please visit the Cineplex website.