The Art Life in ATL: Breathtaking

I am so fortunate to be an intern at the High Museum of Art, but I feel particularly lucky to be here this summer for the Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis exhibition (can you guess how many times I have typed out that full exhibition title? Hint: too many to count.) Being here for the opening of such a major exhibition has been and continues to be an incredible experience that I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I am fully aware of the magnitude of what I am getting to learn and see.

It truly is a once in-a-lifetime experience to see “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in person. The painting normally resides at the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis (pronounced “more-itz-house”) in The Hague, The Netherlands. This is its first appearance in the United States since its showing at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. 15 years ago when there were lines around the block to see her. Yes, I have taken to calling this painting “her” at times; everyone at the museum has! Vermeer has an incredibly small collection of works that are universally attributed to his hand: 34. Seeing any Vermeer painting is a big deal given his comparatively minuscule body of work, so to see his masterwork in the United States is an incredibly rare opportunity. This is the painting’s first time ever being shown in the Southeastern United States. It was at the de Young Museum in San Fracisco before us, and it will be at the Frick Collection in New York after our exhibition closes before travelling to Italy and then back to the Hague. She was in Japan last year and was the largest attended exhibition in the world for 2012 with over 1 million people viewing her. The Girl really is a superstar of the art world, with some calling her “The Dutch Mona Lisa” or the “Mona Lisa of the North.”

The most special moment that I have had thus far is witnessing the unveiling of the Girl by the Director of the Mauritshuis, Emilie Gordenker. We had a special really small media preview (probably 15 people were in the gallery) just of the Girl with a Pearl Earring painting; the rest of the galleries of the exhibition were closed off, and our larger media preview with all of the works was on Wednesday. This was a special preview of this painting as it is unpacked at the High I was allowed to be there as part of the Communications department, and they also asked me to snap a few pictures.

preview

Image Courtesy of Wyatt Williams of Creative Loafing Atlanta

It was nothing short of breathtaking to see one of the most famous paintings in the world mere feet from me not behind any sort of glass or anything. Seeing the painting in this up close, vulnerable state allowed me to experience this art in a completely different way than seeing it up behind bulletproof glass on the museum walls. This was truly an experience that I will cherish forever. I am sorry to be so sappy, but it really is how I feel! It makes me feel that working in an arts-centered environment is the right place for me. Here is my view of the Girl on that day:

girl uncovered

Image Courtesy of Wyatt Williams of Creative Loafing Atlanta

Here is an article about this exclusive preview: http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2013/06/18/girl-with-a-pearl-earring-spotted-by-photographers-in-atlanta