This behind-the-scenes documentary follows the curators at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as they put together the largest Vermeer exhibition ever attempted and discover what makes a Vermeer, truly a Vermeer.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
The Rijksmuseum’s blockbuster Vermeer retrospective, which sold out all tickets within a few days of going on sale in February, and closed on 4 June, was one of the art world’s most revered events of 2023—or any year. This enthralling documentary explores the painstaking mounting of the exhibition, bringing together the Delft master’s limited number of works (34 in all), treasured in museums, both major and minor, around the world, in the “largest Vermeer exhibition ever”.
Negotiations are sometimes fraught. Backroom trade-offs are required. Deft diplomacy primordial. Impassioned experts and connoisseurs share their wonder, drawing us close to details and nuance, debate brushstrokes and depiction of light—and whether certain hallowed Vermeer works are in fact the real deal, leading to fiery discussions. Always central to everything are the sublime paintings themselves and what they reveal about Vermeer, about whom little is known but speculation is rife.
Suzanne Raes (The Rainbow Warriors of Waiheke Island [NZIFF 2010], The Successor of Kakiemon [NZIFF 2013]) offers an illuminating, forensic deep dive, more than compensating for the fact that most of us were deprived the privilege of beholding these bewitching, miniature masterpieces “for real”—and were therefore also spared of having to contend with the thronging hordes, and hence not actually “seeing” them at all. — Sandra Reid
“In a world of ‘hot takes’ and uninformed ‘takedowns,’ where expertise is increasingly de-valued across the board, the experts in Close to Vermeer are a comforting bunch. They know a lot, they share what they know, and they help us to not just look at a Vermeer, but to see.” — Sheila O’Malley, Roger Ebert
“Following curators Gregor Weber and Pieter Roelofs, and conservators Abbie Vandivere and Anna Krekeier, [the film] literally lets you see the artist’s works more closely than you are likely ever to have done before… The results will change the way you think about Vermeer forever.” — Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film