This is not a Vermeer…or is it? I came across this piece of Vermeer farm machinery in a freshly hayed meadow in East Dover, Vermont. This scene tickled my funny bone so I set up my easel immediately and went to work.
In order for me to appreciate this visual pun, I had to be able to hold multiple layers of reality of this at once in my mind. The finding of farm machinery in a meadow in Vermont is no unusual thing but because of the brand logo my brain kicked into art history mode. Johannes Vermeer was a 17th century Dutch painter famous for his genre portraits and interiors (think of The Girl with the Pearl Earring). The closest that he ever came to painting a landscape that I know of were some cityscapes of his hometown Delft. Unusual for his name to be in any way associated with a landscape.
The third layer of reality is that I painted a Vermeer in creating this image…well not really…this reality is that I have pushed some pigment around and created something that our conventional view of reality says painting of Vermeer. Rene Magritte dealt with this view of reality in The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images). Wikipedia states (the painting) shows a pipe that looks as though it is a model for a tobacco store advertisement. Magritte painted below the pipe “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”), which seems a contradiction, but is actually true: the painting is not a pipe, it is an image of a pipe.
This is the truly wonderful thing about art, it can open your mind to a different way of seeing the world, or actually change the way you perceive reality…sometimes into multiple realities.
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