Tim's Vermeer

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Can a non-artist replicate Johannes Vermeer’s The Music Lesson using only paint he’s made himself, 17th century optics and an endless supply of patience? Millionaire inventor Tim Jenison attempts to prove he can in Teller’s documentary.


Magicians penn & Teller’s enthralling doc takes Texan egghead Tim Jenison’s quest to reproduce a Vermeer masterpiece as a leaping-off point to examine the relationship between science and art. An inventor and “computer graphics guy”, Jenison wants to prove that the Dutchman used optics and a camera obscura to achieve his famed photo-realism. He’s a gruff Heath Robinson figure, whose Gobi-dry humour is repeatedly called upon as the task bites, and Vermeer’s endless detail inches him towards the edge. If the zip disappears a little in the final third, a wry David Hockney cameo is one of the many compensatory pleasures.

A funny, often maddening portrait of art, technology and obsession.