Close to Vermeer is a high-level art documentary that extends beyond the Sphinx of Delft

Close to Vermeer is a high-level art documentary that extends beyond the Sphinx of Delft
Close to Vermeer is a high-level art documentary that extends beyond the Sphinx of Delft
‘Close to Vermeer’ by Suzanne Raes.

‘No work is as attractive to view up close as the small-scale oeuvre of the Delft master,’ wrote de Volkskrant last month about the large Johannes Vermeer exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The strong documentary Close to Vermeer puts it to the test: director Suzanne Raes (2016 winner of the Golden Calf for best short documentary with The considerationa portrait of the social services in Rotterdam) shows a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the creation of the exhibition and examines some canvases down to a microscopic level through the eyes of restorers.

The person Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) is a mystery. Hence: the Sphinx of Delft. Another excellent reason to make this documentary. After all, it increases the emphasis on his work and which possible secrets are still hidden in it. Vermeer is what he created: a manageable number of 37 paintings, even though the art world is arguing about a single work. This leads to an extra sharp question here: what makes a Vermeer a Vermeer?

Berend Jan Bockting has been prescribing since 2012 de Volkskrant about film (and sometimes about video games).

Anyone who unexpectedly expects a dolled-up museum commercial can be reassured. Close to Vermeer is a high-level art documentary: excellent for those who want to know more before or after visiting the exhibition. But above all, the film is rich as a self-contained portrait of the art world in general and the cultural, technical and economic value of Vermeer in particular.

Raes searches for and finds the smallest details, from an extensive lecture about the unique way in which the eye looks Woman reading a letter has been painted, to the shrewd diplomacy needed to entice international museum directors and that one private collector to temporarily deliver their Vermeers to Amsterdam. A failed attempt captures the imagination: at the adamant Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Braunschweig, students who have to write about Lady and two gentlemen priority over the Amsterdam trustees.

Among them, Gregor Weber shows himself unashamedly moved on several occasions when he tries to specify Vermeer’s beauty in front of the camera. And when he explains how much the exhibition is intended for the visitor to ‘float in’, he briefly flaps his wings with his hands. With Weber’s endearing and contagious enthusiasm Close to Vermeer an ideal guide.

Close to Vermeer



Directed by Suzanne Raes

With Gregor Weber, Pieter Roelofs, Abbie Vandivere, Anna Krekeler, Jonathan Janson

79 min., in 54 rooms.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Close Vermeer highlevel art documentary extends Sphinx Delft


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