All the Vermeers Now on Electric Objects

by Paddy Johnson on January 25, 2017 Newswire

image (24)

By now, many of us are familiar with Electric Objects (EO). The company produces electronic screens designed to display art. That art can come from the pictures you take on your phone, but it can also come from Art Club, a subscription based service that gives subscribers access to everything from classic works of art to new commissioned work made by contemporary artists.

According to EO, the goal of the product is to make art more accessible—an end they learned was desirable when their 2014 Kickstarter campaign raised close to $800,000 of their $25,000 goal. Just how accessible does this make art? There’s no shortage of debate on that subject amongst our friends on Facebook, but in our books, Art Club made a big jump in that department today.

This morning, the company launched “All the Vermeers” a collection featuring all 35 paintings from the famed 17th-century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. That’s no small deal. Aside from these paintings being amongst the most skillfully rendered in all of art history, his body of work is split between 13 different museums across Europe and the U.S. Individually, each painting is worth millions of dollars, making a show of his full body of work prohibitively expensive for most museums.

“The story of Vermeer appealed to us because, despite his fame, he only painted 35 paintings and they’ve never been displayed in the same place all at once,” EO Head of Product Luke Chamberlin, mastermind behind “All the Vermeers”, told me over email. (He added that the Frick Collection in New York managed to assemble 18 a few years ago, which they think is the record.)

Getting all the images in one place was no easy task. “The most difficult part of assembling the collection was finding high resolution digital images that met our quality standards,” Chamberlin said. Indeed, there would be no way to truly inspect the paintings were the collection entirely low-resolution.
The job of research and collection management fell on Product Manager Alex Ginsberg and took nearly six months to complete. “Some were easy — The Rijksmuseum owns four Vermeers and is a leader in making high resolution scans from their collection available to the public,” observed Chamberlin. “Some Vermeers were difficult to track down for unexpected reasons. For example, “The Concert” was stolen from a museum in Boston in 1990 and to this day no one knows its whereabouts. It is thought to be the most valuable unrecovered stolen painting in the world with an estimated value of $200M. Modern digital scanning equipment hadn’t even been invented in 1990! In the end we tracked down a high-res scan from an old book.”

Long story short, this isn’t a digital collection you can assemble on your own with a few Google searches. It requires the work of a team of experts to produce and can only be seen in its entirety with a subscription to Art Club with the help of an Electric Object.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: