News ID: 262638
Published: 0350 GMT December 07, 2019

Van Gogh immersive exhibit in Montreal

Van Gogh immersive exhibit in Montreal

A new immersive art exhibit in Montreal lets visitors feel like they're stepping into the works of Vincent van Gogh.

Brushstrokes appear several feet wide, as more than 200 works, such as ‘Starry Night’ and ‘The Yellow House’, are blown up and split into panels, giving visitors a 360-degree view of the paintings projected onto the walls and floor, wrote.

Annabelle Mauger, one of the artistic directors behind the exhibit, titled ‘Imagine Van Gogh’, says she tests this type of exhibition by seeing how her young children react to it.

"When I saw them just running [at] the image, running into the paintings, I think, this is the most fantastic thing I can do," she told CBC News.

Mauger said she wanted to create a space where people could experience van Gogh's art in ways traditional museums don't allow. Classical music plays as you move around the warehouse space, where you can reach out and touch the simulated canvas or sit on the floor and watch the artwork swirl around you.

That feeling of being surrounded by the artwork is building on French photographer Albert Plécy's concept of "image totale," which Mauger studied while in Provence, France at the Cathédrale d'images.

"This is something you need to live to understand," she said.

The Montreal showing of ‘Imagine Van Gogh’ is its North American debut, with 40,000 tickets sold before it opened at the Arsenal Contemporary Art center on December 5.

But not everyone is a fan of such immersive art exhibitions, which seek to attract audiences to contemplate works of art by presenting them in an accessible format.

In that exhibit, the paintings came to life through the use of computer-generated animation. But in ‘Imagine Van Gough’, they retain their static quality as they’re projected on the walls, which lets the art express motion, artist Joseph Nechvatal says.

"I don't want the birds flying, you know," said Mauger. "I don't want to see the [self]-portrait of van Gogh smoking. No, for me, this is nonsense."

Hrag Vartanian, the Canadian-born editor-in-chief and cofounder of the influential art criticism website Hyperallergic, is more generous than Nechvatal in his assessment of the growing trend of immersive digital art shows.

"A lot of these artworks are sometimes disappointing when you're in a museum and you realize it's much smaller than you imagined it, or there's a huge crowd and you don't get a moment of contemplation you were hoping for," he said in an interview from New York.

Vartanian believes these large-scale projections can make a viewer feel closer to the artist and the work than you otherwise might get from standing in a museum, seeing the original.

"It takes away the pretension, which I think is one of the barriers museums have with the public; [people] still see them as this kind of rarefied place that sort of holds up a certain idea of our culture. And I think anything we can do to break that down is a good thing," he said.

‘Imagine Van Gogh’ continues at the Arsenal Contemporary Art center until February 2, 2020.



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