Magnificent Multisensory Art Exhibition For Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night installation

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Starry Night installation

Magnificent Multisensory Art Exhibition For Vincent Van Gogh

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Vincent Van Gogh is one of the world’s most famous Post-Impressionists artists. Almost all of his work – over 2,100 paintings and sketches – was completed in the space of nine years. His most famous paintings were created as he flirted with madness, spent time in asylums for the insane and, famously, cut off part of his ear after an argument with fellow artists Paul Gauguin.

His life was almost a cliché of the tortured artist as he spent all his money on painting equipment, drink, and tobacco and ate little. In his lifetime he sold precisely one painting. Another, Portrait of Dr Felix Rey, he presented to his doctor as he could not afford to pay for his treatment. The doctor disliked the painting and used it to patch up a hole in the roof of his chicken coop, then gave it away. 

It is now in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts where it is valued at over $50 million.

In 1890 Van Gogh died of a self-inflicted gunshot. He was 37 years old.

During his lifetime he was lauded as an artist by only a small number of his close contemporaries. Today, he is recognized as one of the world’s great artists with his own museum, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

His work has always held a fascination and other artistes in various genres have referenced his greatness and his work, notably, Don McLean’s song, Vincent, which begins “Starry starry night”; McLean’s hit was also sung by Josh Groban in 2002, and punk band NOFX did a version. Woody Allen wrote a parody of Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo; rapper Tupac Shakur wrote a poem dedicated to him; Joni Mitchell’s album Turbulent Indigo has a title track which references Van Gogh’s madness and the album cover is a take on his Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

Vincent Van Gogh self portrait, art
Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait

There have been innumerable films and documentaries about the artist: Lust for Life, a 1934 novel by Irving Stone, was adapted into a film of the same name in 1956. It starred Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh and Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin and won an Oscar. Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa paid homage to Van Gogh in the 1990 film Dreams, which featured Martin Scorses as Van Gogh. Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh, 1991, starred Jacques Dutronc in the title role and won a record 12 César nominations and the award for best actor. 

There are other notable ones: BBC’s 2006 documentary, Simon Schama’s Power of Art, starred Andy Serkis as Van Gogh and in  2010, Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Van Gogh in the bio-documentary Van Gogh: Painted with Words. Loving Vincent, the world’s first fully hand-painted animated award-winning biopic feature film, was released in 2017, with each frame of the film consisting of an oil painting executed in Van Gogh’s style. At Eternity’s Gate is a 2018 film directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Willem Dafoe about the final days of the painter. 

Now, the Australian company Grande Experiences have taken it to another level and have put together a stunning immersive light and sound exhibition of Van Gogh’s work. 

Entitled Van Gogh Alive this is no ordinary art exhibition. It first debuted in Paris last year as La nuit etoilée and vividly depicts, through digital projection, Van Gogh’s most famous oeuvres displayed on over 30,000 sq ft of space. 

Vincent Van Gogh exhibition
Vincent Van Gogh illuminated exhibition

Walls, ceilings, columns, even the floors are all blasted with vibrant, moving images that illuminate Van Gogh’s colourful brushstrokes in larger-than-life scenes, giving visitors the opportunity to effectively step inside the Dutch artist’s famous paintings. 

It is accompanied by a soundscape of classical music and aromas are infused throughout the auditorium so that museum-goers can literally stop and smell the Sunflowers. Anyone experiencing the exhibition will be surrounded by a vibrant symphony of light, colour, sound and fragrance as they wander around.

Covering the period 1881 to 1890 when Van Gogh lived variously in Paris, Arles, Saint Rémy and Auvres-sur-Oise it attempts to follow a timeline of his artistic development.

Van Gogh’s works have been admired for over a century, but never like this.

The multisensory exhibition has already been mounted in over 50 cities worldwide. It can currently be seen in Kaoshiung, Taiwan, Mexico City, and Pamplona in Spain and will shortly be available in Sydney, Australia. 

Van Gogh Exhibition, art
A multisensory experience

From November it moves to the United States, to the Dali Museum in St Petersburg, to Florida, and then, as a permanent feature at the Indianapolis Museum of Fine Art.

In the tragically short period of his artistic life, Van Gogh tried to show us how to see the world in a new and different way. Now, Grande Experiences are trying to show the world a new and different way to appreciate the genius of Van Gogh.

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