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Composition in Red and Black (Rubens Vermeer)

Medium:Oil on canvas
Size inches:c. 19 3/4 x 15 3/4
Size cm:50 x 40
Signature:Signed and dated lower right and inscribed on the reverse
Location:Private Collection, Mattapoisett, Massachusetts

(In Composition in Red and Black) the artist appears with back turned painting the image of Clio as seen in Vermeer's painting even though the position of the model is now usurped by Rubens' Helene Fourment in a Fur Wrap. Indeed, it seems that in the contradictory relationship between what the artist sees and what he paints, that is, the discrepancy between the figure of Helene Fourment and the representation on the easel of Vermeer's Clio, Deem wryly suggests his own idea about the post-modern artist's place in society as a kind of triplicate identificatory process which includes, in addition to the roles of craftsman and creative genius, the role of the spectator, one who is deeply embedded in the act of seeing, re-envisioning, as a means to the desired end of craftsmanship and creative genius. Isn't this, after all, what Deem's pictures accomplish -- seeing something else in the same thing?

Seema Srivastava, "Deem's Vermeers: A Post-Modern Allegory of Seeing?" Working paper presented in Professor Robert Rosenblum's graduate seminar Neo-Historicism in Late Twentieth-Century Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 18 December 2001.

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