ART/ARCHITECTURE – Johannes Vermeer

ART/ARCHITECTURE – Johannes Vermeer


The wrong things in our world are glamorous:
fast cars, tomato throwing contests, actors – instead of the
right things: going to bed early, long walks observing the sky at dusk, kindness…
It’s not that nothing at all is glamorous, it’s just that we need to direct our admiration
and excitement more wisely; we need to turn it upon the things which genuinely deserve
prestige. Artists can help us. One of the fundamental
things art can do for us is turn the spotlight of glamour in the best – and most helpful
– directions. Artists identify things that we tend to overlook but which, ideally, we
should care about deeply. And through the Serving women, bread, and milk were not especially exciting in the late 1650s,
when Johannes Vermeer painted this picture. [The Milkmaid, 1657-8]. She wasn’t a celebrity; he isn’t showing
us someone who was already highly admired. Yet Vermeer saw in the serving woman pouring
milk something that he felt deserved prolonged contemplation and admiration. He thought something
really important was going on. By worldly standards, it’s a pretty humble situation.
But the care with which she works is moving. Vermeer is impressed by the idea that our
true needs might be quite simple. Bread and milk are really rather satisfying. The light
coming through the window is beautiful. A plain white wall can be a major source of
delight. Vermeer is redistributing glamour by raising
the prestige of the things he depicts. And he’s trying to get us to feel the same way.
The milk maid is a kind of propaganda (or an advert) for homely pleasures. Or consider the painstakingly skilful – and commercial – business of lace-making [The Lacemaker, 1669-1671]: Vermeer
paints the self-employed businesswoman with the usual devotion and care that would be given to a military hero or a great political leader.
Vermeer was himself unremarkable in many ways. He was born in 1632 in the small but beautiful
city of Delft, where his father was a modestly successful art dealer-cum-innkeeper. He stayed there most of his life. He never
travelled away from Delft after his marriage at age 20. He hardly even left his pleasant
home. He and his wife, Catharina, had 11 surviving children and he did much of his painting from the rooms on the upper floor.
(Modeled after Catharina:) Vermeer was a slow painter, partially because
he was not only a painter. He continued the family businesses of art dealing and innkeeping and he also became the head of the local guild of painters. In contemporary terms, his career was not a huge success. He wasn’t especially famous and he didn’t make a lot of money.
He was in fact an exemplary member of what was,in those days, a newly important kind
of person: the middle-class individual. Vermeer was in his teens when Holland (or technically
the Seven Provinces) became an independent state – the first ‘bourgeois republic’
in the world. In contrast to the semi-feudal aristocratic nations that surrounded it, Holland gave honour
and political power to people who were not at the pinnacle of society: to merchants,
administrators, prosperous artisans and entrepreneurs. It was the first country in the world to be recognisably modern.
In this era, a great insight of Christianity – one which is easily detachable from
the surrounding theology – became increasingly relevant: that everybody’s inner life is
important, even if on the outside they do not seem particularly distinguished. Vermeer paints ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’ with the same kind of consideration. [The Girl with the Pearl Earring, 1665]
She isn’t anybody famous or important She isn’t rich. The earring
that she wears is nice, but it is a minor trinket by the eye of the fashionable
world. It is the one pricey thing she owns. Yet she’s not in need of justice – she’s
not downtrodden or badly treated. She is (for want of a better term) ordinary. Yet,
she is (like everyone) not in the least ordinary: she is uniquely, profoundly, and mysteriously, herself. The picture which best sums up Vermeer’s philosophy, The Little Street, has become
one of the most famous works of art in the world. It has pride of place in Amsterdam’s
great Rijksmuseum; it is insured for perhaps half a billion euros and is the subject of
a mountain of learned articles. Yet the painting is pointedly out of synch with its status. Because, above all else, it wants to show us that the
ordinary can be very special. The picture says that looking after a simple but beautiful
home, cleaning the yard, watching the children, darning cloth – and doing these things faithfully
and without despair – is life’s real duty. It is an anti-heroic picture: a weapon against
false images of glamour. It refuses to accept that true glamour depends on amazing feats
of courage or on the attainment of status. It argues that doing the modest things, that
are expected of all of us, is enough. Vermeer did not live long. He died in 1675,
still only in his early forties. But he had communicated a crucial – and
hugely sane – idea: much of what matters to us is not exciting, urgent, dramatic or
special things. Most of life is taken up dealing with things that are routine, modest, humble, and (to be honest) a touch dull. Our culture should focus on getting us to appreciate the average, the ordinary and the everyday. When Vermeer painted his hometown
he didn’t choose a special day; the sky is neither very overcast nor especially sunny. [View of Delft, 1660-1]
Nothing is happening. There are no celebrities around. Yet it is, as he has taught us to recognise,
all very special indeed.

100 thoughts on “ART/ARCHITECTURE – Johannes Vermeer”

  1. She is sooooo pretty. I don't think I've ever seen someone as pretty. Just everything about her, from her general attitude to the way she looks, pretty personified. I mean I could write for hours about…. oh wait, not pretty, I meant pretentious. Damn auto correct, always making me look like a can't.

  2. Not even gunna lie I'm American near Boston so our accents aren't amazing nor is the vocabulary; but this girls voice and her looks are Art to me. I think greatly appreciating little things like this are what makes you more happy and more appreciative of our world.

  3. It's hard to understand with such a whispery voice. I hope future art/ architecture videos (if there will be any) are made in the same style as the others in the curriculum 🙁

  4. The guy seems like a poster boy for being happy with your means. Allowing the bourgeoisie to carry on being happy with theirs. I might just be reading him wrong though.

  5. Wow I got an astrology ad at the end of this. Yes this channel might be philosophical and thus "hippy" but I don't think anyone that watches this is the science denying kind of hippy.

  6. Oh, to be young and beautiful and naive. I certainly hope I am wrong and time will not crush your soul. Perhaps you are not as unaware and know that your eye and hand gestures will bring all the boys to the yard. Could this be practice for an ASMRI (whatever I'm not going to look up whisper video). Maybe I had a girlfriend that was a philosophy major and a horrible person. Anyway, whatever you actually believe is irrelevant as you made me stop to think and comment which was probably your main goal.

  7. je suis tombé sur cette chaine par hasard il y a quelque semaine et j'adore ces videos. Elles m'ont bouleversé!! elles m'ont inspiré, elles m'ont fait croire qu'il reste encore de l'espoir dans l'humanité. merci bien…..You guys are awesome.

  8. lol shes folding laundry cause thats the everyday. they gotta make vids where its a contractor putting up a wall talking or a taper mudding, or a rapper sippin lean or a student passing test answers after class to his homies in 9th period or a cashier at 7/11

  9. Отлично снято. Если будете переводить, то это значит, "Все очень гармонично и уравновешено, диктор не стоит без дела, красивая девушка на кухне, занимается домашними делами."

  10. I did not like the video, because it lacked in more on the technical side and the influences.

    Today this is what is most lacking in the analysis of these art historians is the Aesthetic analysis, if a tree is being portrayed well ahead of the painter it is big if portrayed from a distance it is small, and these different depictions of the same object cause different aesthetic feelings, the problem of art historians is that they only know how to come up with small talk and want to devalue the aesthetic and look only for the philosophical side of the works of art, after all that's why they value so much modern art and that actually it is awful.

  11. In an otherwise well presented video, I found the sound quality lacking. There seemed to be a hard, echoey, boomyness that made the voice less intelligible and harder to listen to.

  12. The editing and direction on this "ART/ARCHITECTURE" series looks cheap and "student project-y" when compared to the other categories on this channel. All the knowledge and ideas are enlightening, but the other categories (PHILOSOPHY, LITERATURE, etc.) set a much higher standard of excellence for creative video-making. As fun as it is to watch her play with bagels and look awkwardly away from the camera, I miss the cut-outs with googly eyes.

  13. the Netherlands is the first country to become modern, and still we are first..or is it now, the Netherlands second?

  14. Hannah, I am so in love with you it's not funny… Your voice is the calming whisper of angels. Wow. Please School of life, give me more Hannah!!!

  15. I was listening to your explanation, but somewhere amongst the words I got lost in your delicate manner and cute voice. And that's just fine with me 🙂

  16. Seems from the comments many of us could appreciate the company of an intelligent, alluring woman.
    A came here for a narrative Alain, I didn't expect to encounter real personality. Life catches me with jabs.

  17. interesting contrast of visual representation of this channel's varying subject matter, why are there different portrayal mediums for the different subject areas? is there only one animator or was it decided that her mundane physical presence was adequate for the art/architecture videos? I must say, both the animations and the recordings of her have been equal in their ability to capture attention

  18. even you are very special dr.Hannah, you have a unique eyebrow, a magical pair of eyes and deep into them a glimpse of a beautiful mind , that is easily deduced.,
    with the voice as melodious as a nightingale you really are special docs.

  19. she is actually very distracting. everyone commented here about her than what she was talking about the painter

  20. What would you think if this video was about reality TV instead of Vermeer’s paintings? Would it still be so profound? Both seek to glorify the ordinary.

  21. Attachment towards glamour, to me it has something to do with where you came from, and the current lifestyle that you’re living. The feeling of unfullfilment in our social lives. For example, someone who was raised in a middle-lower class family will be drawn more towards glamour and status than someone who lives a pretty fullfilling life (in spiritual/emotional also material sense.) and most likely was educated by thoughtful parents. Since, their lives are pretty ordinary anyway, they became bored it’s hard to notice. It’s not something to overlook.

  22. Not her again, this precious and pretentious little lady is a dreadful listen and I so wanted to hear about Vermeer.

  23. this video is art itself, she describes the beauty of the common task and at the same time she does them herself, in such a subtle way that her beauty had more impact in most of the comments (honeslty i was looking for that comment of someone saying: "cheaky girl explaining while doing, clever and beauty, the kind of content im all about") sometimes you have to be the first i guess

  24. School of Life I LOVE your videos, but am disturbed about the lack of people of color. How is that? Please make an effort: James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Elijah Anderson to name a few. And how about issues of race. Thank you!

  25. Thank you, Hannah, for an informative and very beautiful story. You also have a wonderful philosophy that I hope many people can learn.

  26. So elegantly presented. Loved this perspective on Vermeer's work. Although it may not be obvious, I think there is a parallel between Vermeer's paintings and the epic religious inspired pieces from the Baroque period. There's a high level of photo-realism in both styles, but it is Vermeer who takes us much deeper into realism.

    I find it difficult to describe why I love Vermeer to others. His compositions are so well thought that those moments can't be as candid as they seem, yet everything is so grounded in realism that it makes me believe that candid life can be art. For me, Vermeer built the bridge from this world to the world of forms.

  27. I think we've gone right past celebrating the ordinary and mysterious to the vomitous convoluted contrived reality programs that teach the laymen nothing but pretence fakeness alacarte.

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