There’s an interesting exhibition at the Boston Athenaeum this summer featuring some of the major works of George Deem, an artist who mastered painting the masters–in his own variant ways. Deem (1932-2008) was so fascinated with the works of Mantegna, Caravaggio, Matisse, Picasso, and most especially Vermeer, that he repainted them in an engaging manner that not only plays with art–but also with time. The exhibition, entitled George Deem: the Art of Art History, features 30 paintings that focus on Deem’s re-worked and re-imagined Vermeers as well as those of several eminent American artists, like the provocative School of Sargent, below.
George Deem, School of Sargent (1986). Private Collection, Stamford, CT.
I find this painting particularly captivating: it really looks like Madame Gautreau is gazing at The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and they back at her! Odd to have such iconic ladies in the same picture together. Another Deem take on the Boit girls is below, along with George Washington and his Portrait (1972), based on the Gilbert Stuart portrait. I really like both the idea and the image of this painting.
George Deem, George Washington and his Portrait (1972). Collection of the Boston Athenaeum; Sargent Vermeer (2007). Private Collection, Hartford, CT.
Living in an expansionistic age, Johannes Vermeer incorporated maps into the backgrounds of several of his paintings and Deem brings the map into the foreground in Vermeer’s Map and the near-foreground in A Stool, a Chair, and a Map, and a few other Vermeer-inspired paintings.
George Deem, Vermeer’s Map (1982). Private Collection, Falls Church, Virginia; A Stool, a Chair, and a Map (2003). Estate of George Deem.
As one who has spent lots of time drinking in every little detail of Vermeer paintings, I can understand Deem’s obsession with Vermeer (about whom he has also written a book: How to Paint a Vermeer: a Painter’s History of Art, 2004) and it is fun to see these background details (like The Red Chair, below) fill the frame.
George Deem, The Red Chair (2002). Private Collection, West Hartford, CT.
July 16th, 2012 at 5:49 am
These are really wonderful. Thank you for highlighting them.
July 16th, 2012 at 7:42 am
Thanks for the lovely post. I thought those were Vermeer paintings until I glanced at the date, 1982!
I’m a huge Sargent fan so I loved that one to.
July 17th, 2012 at 5:47 am
Thanks, Susan: I can’t stop checking that School of Sargent painting out!
July 16th, 2012 at 2:00 pm
Art and mash-ups: 2 of my favorite things
July 16th, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Reblogged this on houseofzippers and commented:
I also love art and mash-ups.
July 17th, 2012 at 5:44 am
Thanks–and for introducing the word mash-up to the post–I should have put it there myself!
July 16th, 2012 at 5:07 pm
Fascinating art. As one who struggles with stick figures, to be able to replicated the works of someone as talented as Vermeer so closely must have been an amazing gift. I know art forgers have been around forever, but what makes artists like Deem different is they then put their own flourish on each piece, so it’s not simply a copy. Very interesting – thanks for the education on this artist.
July 17th, 2012 at 5:45 am
I totally agree–and I like the focus on the details.
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