Sunday, May 29, 2011

Photos Imitating Art

 How closely can a photograph of real humans match a painting or a sculpture?


See for yourself. Here is Vermeer’s painting “Girl With a Pearl Earring” and actress Scarlett Johansson dressed up for the movie of the same name.


The image on top is the actual Trevi Fountain in Rome. Below that is a staged reƫnactment performed during The Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, California.

Vermeer comparison from “Eye for Detail”
Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach

Girl With The Pearl Earring on Wiki

Thanks, Walter Wick!

16 comments:

MrCachet said...

I'd say Scarlet's earring needs to be larger.

Vicki said...

Pretty close indeed. The thing that strikes me about the girl with a pearl earring as opposed to Scarlett is actually something that you see all the time in movies about the past. The set of Scarlett's shoulders is much more--shall we say SELF CONFIDENT--than that of the Vermeer painting. For all her clothing, she is still a modern woman with a modern woman's self image.
In movies what you see is women in long dresses striding with that American swinging gait, something that I suspect Jane Austen, or the court of Louis XIV, would have found foreign.

Rebecca said...

Very well said Vicki. I would also add that the main difference I see between Scarlett and the original is that the original young woman's expression is so much more timid... almost unsure of herself. There seems to be a bit of vulnerability there. Scarlett looks like she's posing for a vogue magazine and lacks a lot of the depth in expression that the original contains. It would be interesting to see what the painting would be like if Vermeer had painted Scarlett instead of his original model.

Julia Lundman said...

Well, the body language of Scarlett is very different than the girl in the painting. Scarlett has a self conscious pose that seems to be saying, "look at how beautiful I am in this pose. Doesn't it look like that beautiful painting?"

I really don't think that is me projecting either. But who knows. Maybe I am?

The girl in the original painting is far more real and beautiful. Her body language looks less self conscious, meek, timid, natural, lovely.

What is great about the comparison is that after looking at the two, I came to a deeper understanding of how fantastic the original painting is!

wow! the sky is blue. said...

Saw that movie. it was amazing that how the whole movie's treatment was according to the painting, not just the photograph of Scarlett. Imitating the masters ,in film sense would take another mastery.
Another great movie which comes to mind in this regard would be Lust for life based on Vincent Van Gaugh.

Dan Gurney said...

In 2000 we went to the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. We were really impressed.

Erik Robinson said...

Very interesting post! The comments were very enlightening...a lot of smart people reading this blog! Thanks for posting!

My Pen Name said...

you see is women in long dresses striding with that American swinging gait,
I remember discussing this with someone in India - that you could put an american woman, even an 'indian' one in a sari and you could tell right away they weren't indian - one of the most elegant, feminine things i have ever seen is women carrying water on their heads in india- they have to walk with a feminine sway.


I am sure james knows but stockbridge MA, re-enacts Rockwell's christmas on mainstreet every year;
http://www.stockbridgechamber.org/christmas.html

Cindyinsd said...

I think the original girl looks younger, probably because of her softer face and less challenging pose. She does look a little timid, but also inquiring, looking at the artist, but also perhaps into her own future, wondering where her life will go -- my fancy, of course.

The actress is beautiful. She does have the self-confident bearing of an older girl, though, or maybe as others have said, of a more modern woman.

Nathan said...

Maybe there really isn't that much to it after all, just an inexpensive fabric and the best actress that happened to audition.

But some things I found interesting are that there is the sense of very conscious alterations being made to this second posing. Both poses are works of individual artists, one in painting, one in photograph (or the larger film), and although the one is certainly in imitation of the other, we could ask after this new artist's intent. The most obvious and interesting may be the direct break in the color of the clothing? That's a pretty blatant departure. Also the choice of the actress to imitate that subject should be taken into consideration, along with all that she brings to that pose and larger role. Then there's the extra baggage added to the photograph by having the entire film with its plot and characters lending their weight subtextually to the new photographic rendering. ...

Merisi said...

Really interesting, but Scarlett's pose cannot match Vermeer's girl. I wonder if a different actress could slip better into the role.

Recreating a live Trevi Fountain, now that is extraordinary. I wished I could have seen the life performance. Not that I think it can come even close to standing in front of the giant original.

Jason de Graaf said...

This photographer emulates Dutch still life and genre paintings: http://bestshots.com.au/flash/home_splash.html

chambersartstudio said...

No one mentioned artistic license...how the artist makes choices to add or omit things while working. Painting and sculpture is not always a process of copying nature perfectly. And then there is artistic skill. How skillful is the artist at rendering what he or she sees? The invention of photography (for good or ill)revolutionized the way we portray nature and people. It was realized with the viewing of some of the very first photographs that artists were not accurately copying figures and nature exactly as they really are. Look at someone like Michelangelo. So many muscles are added, and so many poses are unnatural. This is artistic license at its most extreme. I find it doubtful that any photographer could have duplicated the "Girl in The Pearl Earring" exactly.

Claire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Claire said...

I loved going to the Pageant of the Masters a few years ago... They really put their all into it! Highly recommend everyone (who is able) go and see it!

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