Don't You See?
Don’t You See?
Don’t you see that I look at, and think about, everything Vermeer did? Not what he thought, but what he did.
Don’t you see that I have looked far too long at Diana and Her Companions, seeing how he satisfied a request for a figure group, how he made the figures all women so that they could be draped, and then historicized? Draping men would come later. Few men are draped; Greeks and Christ come to mind first.
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary. Here Vermeer can drape the male figure. There is little I can do about this painting but understand the way blue was handled in the Christ figure. Blue can be like foil, and be difficult to manipulate and do what is wanted. Blue seems to look back at the painter even after it’s applied satisfactorily. Red applies easily, but it can get on you and get away.
I know that the most exciting painting Vermeer did that started him on his way to becoming Vermeer was The Procuress, because of yellow.
I know that this is the first way to see Vermeer because of the weight deposited in the lower part of the painting. Think of Vermeer and think of the lower part of his paintings and see that they are occupied and well appointed. Now let’s think of another essence of Vermeer.
Colorist means almost no color, not lots of color. Matisse is not a colorist, Matisse is colorful. Vermeer is a colorist because he refined color to an almost gray and white value code.
The first thing that attracts me in Vermeer’s Woman Playing a Lute is the monochromatic color. Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, and White.
Whatever the frailness, the structure and subtle color tie it together. Upon reading some material about the painting’s history I began wondering about the validity of this painting, but came to the conclusion that this painting is so enjoyable to look at that I want to take it apart.
Notebook entry 2002