Skip Navigation

Vermeer & Vija Celmins

  • Vermeer & Vija Celmins by Terri Priest
  • Terri Priest
    Vermeer & Vija Celmins, 2000
    Oil & acrylic on canvas
    59 x 45 inches
    Gift of Marcia and Abbot Vose

    In Vermeer & Vija Celmins, Terri Priest juxtaposes the works of two artists, Johannes Vermeer and Vija Celmins. The Vermeer figure was appropriated from The Music Lesson and the starry night sky from Celmin's mezzotint, Strata.

    Studying the painting techniques and color relationships of the Dutch master and several modern counterparts, Priest painted Vermeer's women on a larger scale, occasionally reversing their pose, viewing or relating to works of 20th century art. Both her replications of the women and the modern works are rendered with meticulous accuracy, the painted surfaces of both originals modified to work together.

    But the subject matter is perhaps more intriguing to the viewer that the compositional details. For more than three centuries, the focus of Vermeer's paintings was often a female subject that stood alone, performing insignificant tasks within his Delft home. In this and similar works, Priest liberates Vermeer’s women from their original settings into environments that expose them to the world of modern art and culture. By enlarging the women in her works, the artist gives them more importance, no longer diminutive or confined by domesticity. In Vermeer & Vija Celmins, the Vermeer woman looks out into the infinity of a night sky, Priest's invitation to explore greater space, the world beyond.

    Terri Priest earned a BFA and MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her works are included in several museum collections in Massachusetts, including the Worcester Art Museum, the DeCordova Museum, and the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, as well as exhibited extensively in national shows. A professor of visual arts at the College of the Holy Cross for fifteen years, she retired from the faculty in 1993 to devote more time to her painting and the Fletcher/Priest Gallery, a Worcester-based contemporary art gallery.

    Vija Celmins was born in Riga, Latvia in 1938. She received a BFA from the John Herron Institute in Indianapolis and a MFA in painting from the University of California, Los Angeles. Pop artist Celmins received international attention at an early age for her accurate renditions of limitless space that lack a point of reference, horizon, or discernable depth of field.

    Vemeer & Vija Celmins, 2000 can be viewed in the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, Floor 14.