Thursday, April 16, 2009

One of these Vermeers is not like the other...

I've been saying this for years and no one has listened, but I AM A TOTAL TRENDSETTER. 10 years ago who was reading books and doing school projects on the greatest art forger of all time? Oh, that would be me. Now, all of a sudden, the tale of wartime intrigue and deciet surrounding the life and work of master forger Han Van Meegeren is hot news. Two books on the subject have recently hit the shelves, and rumor has it that a film on Van Meegeren will premiere sometime in 2009.

I recently picked up one of these books, Jonathan Lopez's The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren, which helped me pass the time on several tedius subway commutes. The book is pretty quick and easy read, I'd call it a 'popular art history book' (like a 'popular science book.' Look at me! I'm setting another trend by coining a new term), a sort of "dumbed down" easy read with enough plot drama to keep any old reader turning the pages.

While the writing itself isn't anything write home about (or to write a 'popular art history book' about for that matter), The Man Who Made Vermeers offers a refreshingly factual look at the Van Meegeren forgeries. Lopez debunks popular myths about Van Meegeren, who is often called a 'dutch folk hero' or 'the man who fooled Goering,' and lays bare the facts about the forgers life, work, and political leanings. In the end, a very un-varnished portait emerges, and it's a rather ugly picture of a Nazi-sympathyzing, war-profiteering opportunist.

Also, if you can't tell which "Vermeer" is which in the side-by-side above, then you are dumb.

1 comment:

  1. i learned about that in art history when i was abroad. tip of the hat, arts education.