Museum Asks Public to Reinvent a Classic Painting, With Incredible Results

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Museum Asks Public to Reinvent a Classic Painting, With Incredible Results

Girl with a pearl earring? More like Guy With an Apple AirPod.

The Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague has put out a call for recreations of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic 17th-century painting — with bizarre and delightful results.

No earring in this photo by Jessica van der Mast. Just an AirPod.


Woman wearing a turban and two pearl earrings while holding a camera

Architect Zoé Molnár is a girl with a pearl earring — and a camera.


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 headscarf, a large earring dangling from her left ear. The tributes range from beautiful to creepy to surreal, from classic to abstract to steampunk. You will see the girl in photographs, digital drawings and oil paintings, and recreated in sculptures made from embroidery thread, toys, school supplies and multicolored beads and buttons.

A Na'vi from Avatar as the girl with a pearl earring

Multimedia artist Double O Roos: “I make her cry for the world for the people and for the Earth.”


Girl With a Pearl Earring with a robot instead of a girl

Robot With a Pearl Earring, an oil on canvas by artist Julian DePuma.


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 is decidedly 21st century, with a face mask or earplugs or with a mobile phone. One artist overlaid Vermeer’s painting on a Tinder screen and called the creation “Swipe Right.”

A girl wears a mask on top of her turban in this interpretation of Girl With a Pearl Earring

A number of the tributes have face masks, of course.


Girl with a pearl earring, wearing a face mask

Art gallery owner Gea Kok shows the famous Girl, ready for COVID.


Are some of the digital versions created with an AI art creation tool such as Dall-E or Midjourney? You can bet on it.

The Mauritshuis usually houses the famous painting, but for eight weeks from February the work will be on loan for a Vermeer exhibition at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Rather than leave the girl’s wall empty, the Mauritshuis plans to rotate some of the crowd-sourced renditions through a digital display.

“The room where the Girl hangs will temporarily become a place of inspiration with as many Girls as possible gathered, from home and abroad,” says the museum.

Pencils and other school supplies made in the shape of Girl With a Pearl Earring

“My mandate for myself was to create it with what I could only find in my living room,” says Elisabeth Koch.


Girl With a Pearl Earring, recreated with embroidery floss

Submissions came in all sorts of colorful materials.


As the submissions attest, the museum has placed no limits on creativity here. “A self-portrait with a bath towel as a turban, a painted iron or even a pile of crockery,” it says. “Few are too crazy for us.” Registration for the competition closed on 15 January.

Vermeer, one of the most famous Dutch painters of the 17th century, is known for his intimate domestic scenes and beautiful use of light.

His iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring has made a number of literary and film appearances, including in a 1999 historical novel of the same name that told a fictional story of the painting’s creation. That book led to a 2003 film adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson as a young servant in the house 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 view all 36 of Vermeer’s paintings. see and learn about . None of them have robots.

Girl With a Pearl Earring as a self-portrait by a bearded man

Visual artist Wil Peerboom, like many others, opted for a self-portrait.


Dog dressed in the style of Girl With a Pearl Earring

“Pooch With a Pearl Earring” has a nice ring to it.


An earring in the shape of the painting Girl With a Pearl Earring

A meta-assumption of Girl With a Pearl Earring: the painting as an actual earring.


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