First Look review: “Immersive Van Gogh” provides the breathtaking spectacle of watching Van Gogh’s art come to life
By Michael Dritto
Photos by Michael Brosilow
Location: Lighthouse Artspace Chicago (108 W. Germania Place) through Sept. 6. Tickets can be purchased by calling 844-307-4644 or logging on to VanGoghChicago.com
Background: Chicago is the latest city to receive the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit. Housed in the newly renovated Lighthouse Artspace in Old Town, IVG is a “visually spectacular digital art exhibition inviting you to step inside the iconic works of post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh.”
Originally debuting to critical acclaim in Toronto, Immersive Van Gogh was birthed by the Italian creative team who pioneered the digital experience in Paris. Creative director and Italian film producer, Massimiliano Siccardi, designed the experience, with original, mood-setting music by Italian multimedia composer Luca Longobardi. The two are the original trailblazers of digital art experiences in Paris, where they were part of the team that created the world renowned Van Gogh, Starry Night Experience, among others.
With this experience, you step past the frame and experience the world in all the wonder and color that Van Gogh did.
What to expect: The experience consists of a 40-60-minute immersive walk-through exhibit. Guests are invited to stroll through three rooms where 50 projectors illuminate more than 14,000 square feet of space filled with the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh.
Unlike typical art exhibits, where the people move through the portraits on the walls, IVG moves the art through the people in the space. Famous works of Van Gogh have been digitalized and animated to flow and fill the space, in synchronization, to an entrancing musical accompaniment. Each painting depicted materializes as if we are watching the painting come to life in Van Gogh’s mind.
What stood out: The immersive aspect of the exhibit. I mean, it’s in the name. It truly feels like you are walking through Van Gogh’s art, as well as his life. With most art, you look through a frame to get a glimpse at the world that the artist sees. But with this experience, you step past the frame and experience the world in all the wonder and color that Van Gogh did. The way the music flows and the visuals move really help add to the experience.
While it is described as a “walk through” exhibit, I found the experience to be most enjoyable when I didn’t move at all. Rather, when I chose to let the art move around me. The entire experience is only three rooms, and each room projects the same visuals, so there isn’t really a need to move about unless you are keen on continuously shifting your perspective. The middle of the room is lined with triangular monolith-like mirrors, so even standing still, you won’t miss anything.
Each painting depicted materializes as if we are watching the painting come to life in Van Gogh’s mind.
The other thing that stood out was how Covid-conscious the exhibit was. Tickets are handed out in blocks to limit the number of people in the exhibit, they have instituted several safety precautions such as touchless ticket-taking and temperature checks, and they have digitally projected social distancing circles on the floor to ensure appropriate spacing amongst all guests. My girlfriend and I found that particularly satisfying, as we don’t like it when people are in our space in general.
Final thoughts: Immersive Van Gogh is a unique, safe experience that can provide cooped-up Chicagoans a different world to escape to. The feeling is warm, the visuals are breathtaking and the music guides you to another plane. For the best possible experience, I would recommend visiting one of Chicago’s local dispensaries before your registered time.