Reinventing paintings is nothing new. Artists have been riffing off each other’s art since art was invented. It’s a way to use someone else’s ideas to add depth to your own, like quoting someone who inspires you.
And no art should be immune from being revised.
The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague put out a call to art fans everywhere for their takes on Girl with a Pearl Earring. The famous 17th century painting by Johannes Vermeer normally hangs in their collection, but for February and March, it’s going to pay a visit to Amsterdam, on loan to another museum for their Vermeer exhibition. In the meantime, the Mauritshuis intends to display these reinventions in its place in a digital display.
“The room where the Girl hangs will temporarily become a place of inspiration with as many Girls together as possible, from home and abroad,” the museum says.
Using the hashtag #mygirlwithapearl on Instagram, the museum had over 4500 interpretations submitted before their January 15th deadline. Artists around the world are reinventing the oil painting in photography, in digital art, in sculpture, embroidery, balloons, and jewelry. They are reinventing her in their pets, in their own faces, in arrangement of school supplies and AI-generated art.
Jessica van der Mast submitted a photograph of a young man in a blue bandana with an AirPod in place of the eponymous pearl. Double O Roos manipulated the image to be of a Na’vi, the blue aliens from the popular movie Avatar. Julian DePuma actually created a new oil painting, reinventing the young woman as a wide-eyed robot.
This being 2022 and the original painting featuring so much blue, many people submitting images with the ubiquitous hospital-blue surgical masks added in.
Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the best-known western paintings in the world, even if most people couldn’t tell you the name of the artist. Johannes Vermeer left behind 36 paintings, all of them masterworks of light and intimacy.