Archives for posts with tag: Vermeer

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GIRL WITH PEARL EARRING BY JOHANNES VERMEER
by W.S. Di Piero

He put the spirit essence
the light pip not only
in each eye’s albumen
concentrate of starlight
but must have been taught
how to do that by first
finding it in the pearl
he posed then corrected
in dusty studio light
that pounced on the window
behind which sits the cheeky girl
pear- and apple-blossom cheeks
a fake description naturally
of their plain fleshiness
drably golden and her lips
from Haight Street’s darlings
nose studs jacket studs
girls with that kind of eye
one by the ATM machine
casual juicy and so fair
a Netherlandish type
panhandling strangers
pomegranate seed ball
bearings agleam in her nose
pearls not sea-harvested
but imagined seen put there
by a certain need and fancy
because love says it’s so
picture that picture this.

SOURCE: “Girl with Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer” appears in W.S. Di Piero‘s collection Skirts And Slacks: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer (1665).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Poet, essayist, art critic, and translator, W.S. Di Piero has taught at Northwestern University, Louisiana State University, and Stanford, where he is professor emeritus of English and on faculty in the Stegner Poetry Workshop. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, Di Piero was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2012. His  numerous poetry collections include Country of Survivors (1974),  The Dog Star (1990), Skirts and Slacks (2001), Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems (2007), and Nitro Nights (2011). Di Piero has also published a number of volumes of essays on literary and visual art, most recently When Can I See You Again: New Art Writings (2010). A translator of Italian poetry, Di Piero’s first translation, Giacomo Leopardi’s Pensieri (1981), was nominated for a National Book Award. He has won many honors and awards for his work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. He lives in San Francisco.

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Unless you’ve sworn off the news during the past few days, you’re familiar with Cecilia Gimenez, the 81-year-old attempting to shave off a few Purgatory points by doing some good works — in this case, restoring a 19th century fresco of Christ on the wall of her church in Borja, Spain.

For the record (and this is why I’m not showing how she ruined the icon), this blog assiduously avoids discussions of religion or politics — that’s not our territory. But I couldn’t resist commenting on this story — there are so many levels and layers to it.

First, it’s a fine example when your children ask, “What does it mean when someone says ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’?”

Second, it shows the value of getting regular eye checkups. I have to wonder if Cecelia Gimenez has cataracts. Before her cataract operation, my mother could not distinguish yellow from white or brown from purple. She had the front door of her house painted a Barney purple, thinking it was “umber” (true story, and I have the photos to prove it!).

Third, I’m wondering if the other parishioners stopped Cecilia Gimenez before she was finished with her work. (You know how messy works-in-progress can look!)

Finally, I feel this story expresses the importance of art education — and why we need to support funding for the arts (hey, that sounds political).

Cecilia Gimenez refuses to repent for her sins (mortal? venial?) and appears belligerent, arrogant, self-satisfied, defiant, and convinced her work is beautiful. Wait a minute. She sounds like most of the artists I know. Welcome to the club, Cecilia!

Articles about this art restoration debacle have swept the Internet — but my favorite is a piece at hyperallergic.com called “Octogenarian Restorer Strikes Again.” The brilliantly written article imagines what Cecilia Gimenez could accomplish if allowed to restore some of the world’s art treasures, including Andy Warhol‘s portrait of Elizabeth Taylor  (below), Munch’s “The Scream,” Van Gogh‘s self-portrait, Vermeer‘s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” and Leonardo‘s “Mona Lisa.”

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