Girl With a Pearl Earring? More like Guy With an Apple AirPod.
The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague put out a call for re-creations of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic 17th century painting — with bizarre and delightful results.
Scroll through posts tagged #mygirlwithapearl on Instagram and you’ll find more than 4,700 interpretations of the famous oil painting of a young girl in a head wrap, a large earring dangling from her left ear. The homages range from beautiful to whimsical to surreal, from classical to abstract to steampunk. You’ll see the Girl in photos, digital drawings and oil paintings, and re-created in sculptures made from embroidery thread, toys, school supplies and multicolored beads and buttons.
She appears as a baby, an older bearded man, a duck, a dog, a bunny and a blue Na’vi from Avatar. In more than one image, she’s decidedly 21st century, wearing a face mask or earbuds or holding a cellphone. One artist overlayed Vermeer’s painting on a Tinder screen, calling the creation “Swipe Right.”
Were some of the digital versions created with an AI art creation tool like Dall-E or Midjourney? You can bet on it.
The Mauritshuis usually houses the famous painting, but for eight weeks starting in February, the work will be out on loan for a Vermeer exhibit at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Rather than leave the Girl’s wall empty, the Mauritshuis plans to rotate some of the crowdsourced interpretations through a digital display.
“The room where the Girl hangs will temporarily become a place of inspiration with as many Girls together as possible, from home and abroad,” the museum says.
As the submissions attest, the museum didn’t place any restrictions on creativity here. “A self-portrait with a bath towel as a turban, a painted iron or even a pile of crockery,” it says. “Little is too crazy for us.” Registration for the contest closed on Jan. 15.
Vermeer, one of the most renowned Dutch painters of the 17th century, is known for his intimate domestic scenes and stunning use of light.
His iconic Girl With a Pearl Earring has made a number literary and cinematic appearances, including in a 1999 historical novel of the same name that told a fictional tale of the painting’s creation. That book led to a 2003 film adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson as a young servant in the home of Vermeer, played by Colin Firth.
If you want to explore the original painting in more detail to better appreciate the reimaginings, an augmented-reality feature called Pocket Gallery in Google’s free Google Arts & Culture app offers a virtual exhibition space where you can see and learn about all 36 of Vermeer’s paintings. None of them feature robots.