What do the bad boys of magic Penn and Teller, their inventor and technology genius of a friend Tim Jenison, and arguably the greatest painter in history Dutch master Johannes Vermeer have in common? The film “Tim’s Vermeer” currently playing in theaters across the country–including Knoxville’s own art house theater Downtown West.
Tim’s eight-year journey begins with Tim’s obsession for answering the question why Vermeer’s paintings appear photo-realistically perfect 150 years before photography was invented. Having made his fortune creating technological advances, Jenison had the time and money to travel around the world (including to Delft, Holland where Vermeer lived and painted), build an exact replica of the artist’s workroom in a warehouse in Texas, build every stick of furniture shown in Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson” (done around 1662-64), and actually paint the masterpiece with mirrors and optical devices to prove that Vermeer painted in just this manner.
And–oh, by the way–Jenison had never painted in his life. Penn Gillette and Jenison posit, and convincingly make their case, that developing and using this technique to create paintings, as Vermeer so clearly did, takes nothing away from his genius. It took 300 or so years and another genius, Tim Jenison, to figure out how Vermeer accomplished something no other painter is known to have done.
Read the film’s entire back story as written by Ed Symkus on The Boston Globe Web site:
Either catch this fascinating film in limited release or watch when it eventually makes it to DVD or Netflix. In my estimation, Jenison makes his case beyond any reasonable doubt. Decide for yourself.