The New Vermeer

The New Vermeer

Press Release 

Amsterdam, February 12, 2023

Social artist Himmelsbach wins Omroep MAX TV contest ‘The New Vermeer’ 

Himmelsbach (1983) won the TV contest ‘The New Vermeer’ on Sunday, Feb. 12, with his surprising interpretation of Johannes Vermeer’s lost work, “A nobleman washing his hands. / Daer een seigneur zijn handen wast.” Himmelsbach has reinterpreted Vermeer’s work in a unique and surprising way by depicting the contemporary dilemma of a status holder, supported by Vermeer’s stylistic elements.

In Himmelbach’s work, “A status holder washes his hands” we see Khalid, who finally has a residence permit after 16 years of illegality. He washes his hands to show his good intentions to his daughter’s mother in hopes of being allowed to see his daughter again. Himmelsbach executed the work as a woodcut, printed on 400-gram Hahnemühle paper. In order to emphasize the conceptual approach, Himmelsbach omitted the further use of color.

Himmelsbach is known for his social artworks and guerrilla interventions with, for example, his project “A Paper Monument for the Paperless. His work is part of the collections of the Sittard-based De Domijnen Museum and the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. He has exhibited in Berlin, Brussels, Ghent and New York, among other places. Recently, Himmelsbach won the Museum Het LAM’s Art Entrepreneur Award.

A public secret
What the program does not show the audience is that Himmelsbach began the TV contest as a playful kickoff by appealing to a psychic who said he was in contact with Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer explained that the lost work “The Lord Washing His Hands” no longer existed and that the inspiration and resonance of his work in the present time were most important to his quest. At this, Himmelsbach decided to portray a status holder with Vermeer’s blessing.

Signed and numbered edition
This work will be on display at Museum Prinsenhof Delft from March 20 to June 4, 2023. The work has been made in an edition of 5 signed and numbered prints (and 3 artist prints) and will be offered after the museum opening via