Seven Vermeer Corners
| Image Notes
Seven Vermeer Corners, Begun May 1996, Signed and dated March 1999.
Upper register, from left to right: 1) Vermeer, The Glass of Wine, 1658-60. 2) The Geographer. 1668-69. 3) A Lady Standing at the Virginals, 1670-72.
Lower register, from left to right: 4) Girl Interrupted at Her Music. 5) Woman Holding a Balance. 6) The Milkmaid. 7) Woman with a Lute.
...(Seven Vermeer Corners) is a to scale representation in oil of these seven Vermeer interiors on one canvas. From each of these the artist has taken away all human figures and most of the furnishings, thereby allowing Vermeer's seven spaces, along with a few of their contents, to show themselves as spaces somehow existing prior to the Vermeers we may believe we know. In each case the corner of a or the room appears as the axis of departure, the place from where the painted world originates and unfolds, both the spare one we see here and also the familiar original. The space unfolds from the corner, even as the light falling through a window on the left seems to reveal it. It does this in relation to both its actual geometrical -- though never its perspectival -- construct, and to its mood or disposition. In this as in other Vermeers painted since the 1970s George Deem's project is deeply hermeneutical and often witty, the project of one painter attempting to understand another. (Christiane Hertel, "Seven Vermeers: Collection, Reception, Response" in A Companion to Vermeer, Wayne Franits, ed.,New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
..In this monumental homage to Vermeer, Deem replicated and united interiors from seven of Vermeer's paintings including The Milkmaid (1658-60; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) and Woman with a Lute (1664; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Reincarnated here at exactly the sizes that Vermeer painted them, these rooms catalogue Vermeer's - and by transfer, Deem's - fascination with the subtleties of light and composition. Deem's format is reminiscent of a traditional art-history lecture in which two or more images are shown together for comparative purpose. The appropriated spaces are united here, not only by the precision and delicacy of the technique a la Vermeer, but also by the seemingly random, painterly borders, which are pure Deem. (David Dearinger, exhibition wall text,George Deem: The Art of Art History, The Boston Athenaeum, April 11 - September 1, 2012).
From October 6, 2000 to June 6, 2001 the painting Seven Vermeer Corners was on loan to the U. S. Ambassador's Residence, The Hague, at the request of Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, through the Art-in-Embassies Program, U.S. Department of State.
| Artist's Notes
At first glimpse, this painting looks like a series of stage designs, as though Vermeer was planning a drama. Each rectangle is indeed like a stage set because each rectangle lacks figures. Each rectangle is a painting of Vermeer without the figure. There are seven of them, the size of the originals. These empty rooms start one's eyes to wander into each corner and settle awhile. These corners do suggest shelter. Each corner is a complete statement of its own. Putting seven of them on one canvas takes them out of the usual context. And they are seen in another way -- outside of Vermeer's intention, for example. These seven rectangular corners are not chronological. They are placed among one another according to my choice. I see impact and conflict, and although this (missing verb) inevitable, other arrangements would make a different statement. I presume our eyes read from left to right.
(Undated note page torn from notebook and inserted with other notes for this painting in the artist's studio reference book, Albert Blankert, Vermeer Every Painting, 1979)
Last night the mailman brought your package with George's work copy of Albert Blankert's Vermeer. What a surprise and what a beautiful gift! Many, many thanks! It is almost unbelievable that he used this small book to cut out so carefully and measure and square those seven paintings. And then his notes about the work:
"These corners suggest shelter."
(Christiane Hertel, eMail 10/2/2015 to Ronald Vance)
"These corners suggest shelter."
That sentence did not get carried over into George's finished text about the painting "Seven Vermeer Corners."
Like Allan Stone before him, Pavel Zoubok thought it risky for an artist to reveal his intentions and working methods, while George was careful to record the one and demonstrate the other. I am glad you have George's work copy of Blankert's Vermeer.
(Ronald Vance, eMail 10/2/2015 to Christiane Hertel)
(Seven Vermeer Corners) is seven Vermeer interiors …the exact size of the originals placed on one canvas. Each of these small interiors has everything removed except that which touches the wall. It was at this time I decided to leave the borders around each painting unpainted. Finally this led to using these borders as a test area for color. They were also used as a palette where I mixed colors next to the painted interior. This was new for me and the cluttering of the borders took more time and consideration than the interior corners. "Seven Vermeer Corners" was completed in 1999.
(Notebook entry dated March 2002)
Las Vegas Art Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada
Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York
The Boston Athenaeum, Boston, Massachusetts
Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York