Two immersive Van Gogh exhibits headed for Detroit

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News
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Wonder what it would be like to step inside one of Vincent Van Gogh’s bold, iconic paintings? Soon you can. Twice if you want.

Not one, but two, immersive Van Gogh exhibits featuring digital floor-to-ceiling projections of the Dutch painter’s masterpieces appear headed to the Motor City later this year.

“Beyond Van Gogh: An Immersive Experience” kicks off June 25 and runs through mid-August at the TCF Center and will display 300 Van Gogh paintings in ways visitors have never seen before.

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Detroit,” meanwhile, begins in October and runs through early February. The location hasn’t been announced yet but “a secret venue situated in the heart of Detroit” will be announced before it opens. 

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago opened in February and runs through early September.

Tickets are now on sale for both exhibitions.

“Beyond Van Gogh” was created by French-Canadian Creative Director Mathieu St. Arnaud and his team at Montreal’s world-renowned Normal Studio. St. Arnaud said they wanted to create an experience that goes beyond Van Gogh’s paintings to interpret the world around the painter. The exhibit will include some of Van Gogh’s most iconic works but also some animation to bring the landscape to life.

“Our idea is to have people go beyond the frame, beyond the image – to actually meet him,” said St. Arnaud, speaking by phone from Miami where he's getting ready to launch the exhibit for the first time. “It’s really a journey.”

The main gallery space is called the Dream Gallery. Visitors will see moving clouds and recreated portions of the paintings.

Van Gogh “found beauty everywhere – his shoes, a flower pot,” said St. Arnaud. “In this pandemic world, I think it’s important to find the beauty around us.”

“Immersive Van Gogh Detroit,” meanwhile, is designed and conceived by Massimiliano Siccardi, with soundtrack by Luca Longobardi, both of whom pioneered immersive digital art experiences in France. This production – featuring 60,600 frames of video, 90,000,000 pixels, and 500,000 cubic feet of projections – was also presented in Chicago and sold out its Toronto run, calling itself the “original” immersive experience.

The Detroit Institute of Arts will debut its own Van Gogh exhibit, “Van Gogh in America,” in October of 2022. It’ll coincide with the 100th anniversary of the DIA’s purchase of van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait” (1887).

Immersive Van Gogh exhibits

  • 'Beyond Van Gogh' runs June 25 through mid-August at TCF Center in Detroit.
  • 'Immersive Van Gogh' begins in October at an undisclosed location and runs through early February 2022.
  • Tickets on sale now for both exhibits; prices vary.
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