some thoughts on Vermeer’s “The Concert”

i wrote this nearly 2 years ago but never posted it somehow

how vermeer used “grail geometry” to compose “The Concert”:

how vermeer used “grail geometry” to compose “The Concert”

a painting in the background (“The Procuress”) infers a sexual
relationship between the 3 musicians.

music and musicians were used to indicate sex and passion in dutch
painting as a rule apparently.

one critic mentions that the featuring of the right hand indicates
“moderation” as a theme, appropriate in the context of that interpretation
of the painting.

but to me – as one critic said — the man is removed from the room by
being placed in the painting-within-the-painting. to him this means the
man is outside the world of women. to me he is outside the painting as the
viewer is outside the painting, seeking to understand it, while also being
a part of it, implicated within. but a ghost, a figure of otherness never
a part of the whole or separate, suspended between the 2. perhaps this is
also a reference to the artist, always outside the scenes he paints. also
note the instrument in deep shadow in the foreground.

the red rectangle behind the man underlines his otherness/danger/sexual

if vermeer used occult geometry to compose the painting, perhaps this
figures in the sense of being “in the know” or not, depending on whether
you understand the symbolism he’s using. i think it likely that the
geometry was used intentionally, and the strength of the composition is an
important reason why his paintings impress people centuries later.

the intrusion of the red square and the spookiness of the male figure
complement the complex and very formal composition and infuse it with
intimations of the primal creative & destructive energies, sex & death,
the tension between the artist & bourgeois stability, suffocating stasis.

notice how different it feels to look at the calendar now. more removed
because of the presence of interpretation, yet more connected to it
because you’ve been drawn into “the room”…

BTW this painting was stolen and recovered in the 90s.

“all is clouded by desire, Arjuna … it blinds the soul”



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August 2008
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