This body of work is a collaboration between sculptor Elizabeth Duffy and photographer Brian Miller. The images and objects on view in the exhibition draw direct inspiration from Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, an iconic 1434 painting that art historians have decoded for centuries, and which initially interested both Duffy and Miller for very different reasons.
Miller found particular interest in the work as “a very early example of the use of optical devices in painting, with the chandelier and the background showing near photographic perfection in it’s rendering.” Duffy, on the other hand, was drawn to Jan Van Eyck’s “sense of reverie toward the material world.”
For both of them, however, the image represented a 15th-century approach to domestic harmony, and led them to begin looking for corresponding symbols in their own modern lives. Some are direct quotations from the painting, others are more oblique. Through this project, the painting becomes a filter for viewing their life together.
While the Arnolfini Portrait has been explored for centuries, its meaning is still essentially the same. The painting features a couple pictured with very specific belongings which signify well-to-do, upper-middle-class life. Miller and Duffy updated some of the symbols to reflect their contemporary life as artists, getting by some 600 years later.