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James McGarrell on Jan Vermeer

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James McGarrell reflects on Jan Vermeer’s The Artist in His Studio (1665-1670).

McGarrell writes: “I find in all of his works, and in this piece specifically, a sequentially paced structure that directs a journey for the probing eye. Its entry is inevitably from the bottom edge because it is from there that, as crawling infants, we all enter spaces. But we do not plunge into this imaged one quickly; we must first visually feast on a barricade of furniture on the left and cross the two-point-perspective diagonals of the square floor tiles on the right, which retard our speed by thrusting us into deep space from both lateral directions simultaneously.”

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