Tim's Vermeer

2014

Tim's Vermeer

Critics Consensus

Entertaining and profound in equal measure, Tim's Vermeer uses its seemingly esoteric subject to pose fascinating questions about art and obsession.

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 120

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,729
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Movie Info

Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, (Video Toaster, LightWave, TriCaster) attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer ("Girl with a Pearl Earring") manage to paint so photo-realistically - 150 years before the invention of photography? The epic research project Jenison embarks on to test his theory is as extraordinary as what he discovers. Spanning a decade, Jenison's adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces on a pilgrimage to the North coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney and eventually to Buckingham Palace, to see the Queen's Vermeer.

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Critic Reviews for Tim's Vermeer

All Critics (120) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (107) | Rotten (13)

  • "Tim's Vermeer" is about many things - art history, technology, painting technique, beauty - but ultimately it's a beguiling study of fascination.

    Mar 6, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • We should never forget that Penn and Teller are professional bamboozlers, and their attempt to re-frame the definition of genius might be nothing but smoke and mirrors.

    Mar 6, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Unexpectedly dazzling.

    Feb 28, 2014 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Tim's Vermeer is film as forensics, bringing math and science to bear to solve an art-world mystery.

    Feb 28, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • "Tim's Vermeer" is a movie for people who like to think, who like to ponder the big questions surrounding art and the act of creation.

    Feb 27, 2014 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Mostly it is fascinating and compelling.

    Feb 21, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tim's Vermeer

  • Jul 16, 2014
    I was particularly interested in this documentary as an Historian of Art. It tells us the story of the inventor Tim Jenison's efforts to duplicate the painting techniques of Johannes Vermeer, in order to test his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of optical devices. Directed by Teller and written by Penn Jillette and Teller this was an entertaining and profound film in equal measure. Tim choose Vermeer as seemingly esoteric subject and he asks fascinating questions about the way this painter reached the fame, answering them himself through a project of art and obsession. There is a huge element of self-indulgence and vanity in this expensive project but I enjoyed Tim's way of thinking and finding ways to prove his theory that one of the most famous painters in the world could be just a hard worker who knew how to use the technology of the time! Interesting view with lots of substance delivered through the 1 hour and 20 minutes. If you are interested in art, check it out. You can learn a lot!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Mar 22, 2014
    Tim's Vermeer is the study of how a non-artist could construct a masterpiece. For most of the film we watch as Tim attempts to copy The Music Lesson. His pursuit occurs over several months. Only a very rich man with deep pockets could possibly endeavor such a colossal undertaking of time and money. At times the experiment is almost like watching paint dry, and the chronicle even acknowledges this. Yet the results are astonishing nevertheless. One might suggest that his findings negate Vermeer's accomplishments. I found quite the opposite. Assuming this is how Vermeer worked, it re-enforces how difficult it was to create his compositions. Tim's Vermeer is something I'd recommend to anyone with an appreciation for Baroque painting. It probably plays more like a special on public television than as a theatrical movie, but as far as this art history buff is concerned, I was transfixed. fastfilmreviews.com
    Mark H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 06, 2014
    As an inventor and special effects innovator, Tim Jenison probably deserves having a documentary made about him just on those criteria alone. But it is his investigation into 17th century painter Johannes Vermeer who was renowned for photographic like realism in his paintings that is of interest in the fascinating and entertaining documentary "Tim's Vermeer" from Penn & Teller. Due to not wanting contemporaries stealing ideas from him(and probably also to mess with future art historians), Vermeer left behind no notes on his methods. However, certain art historians have theorized that he created his famous paintings with mirrors, or more precisely a camera obscura. That's where Tim Jenison comes into the picture and the documentary by using his engineering expertise to recreate the conditions necessary, first on a copy of a modern photograph of his father-in-law(signed with a black felt tip pen, no less), followed by a reconstruction of one of Vermeer's paintings with a little help from some of the most patient family imaginable.(To be honest, I do suspect there was a little horsetrading involved.) Not only does all of which not take away from the magic of the paintings, but actually puts us all in awe of the painstaking tasks it took to create such great art. This was at a time when Vermeer had to create all of the geometry of his setup from scratch.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2014
    'Tim's Vermeer'. One man's curiosity and capacity for obsession detailed in a painstakingly entertaining way. Who says art and technology are at opposite ends of the spectrum? Seeing the months it took, I really what drove Vermeer, or what drove anyone of that era to create paintings like they did?
    c0up   Super Reviewer

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