My first dive into Vincent Van Gogh's art and legacy was at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. In the neatly arranged two-story exhibit, we viewed his paintings in the typical setting; a frame here, a paragraph of text there.
We examined some of the Dutch artist's most famous works and learned the sad story of his life; a quiet child who grew into a Protestant missionary, and then into the avant-garde painter with tenuous mental health who became famous after his untimely death in 1890.
More than 140 years later, Van Gogh's art is scattered in many of the art museums I've visited around the country; an almost unimpressive feat considering the wide breadth of his work, numbering more than 2,000 pieces. It's easy to discount the genius of this man's work and think, yes, another Van Gogh, so what?
That's why when we visited the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in San Francisco, I was pleasantly surprised in the exhibit's ability to breath new life into his paintings. By pairing more than 400 of his masterpieces with music and light in a way no one had considered previously, we all met Van Gogh again, as if for the first time.
- 40 projectors
- 56,000 frames of video
- 400 images contributed from the world's foremost art galleries
- 510 feet of truss
- 240 hours of art blending
The immersive experience projected Van Gogh's paintings on the walls and floor, surrounding us from every side as we sat on cushions and benches, looking upward.
These were not images flashed on and off a screen, like in a PowerPoint presentation. As each new image slowly painted across the room with 10 foot tall brushstrokes, the music would change to match the tone; some songs light and vocal, other slow and instrumental.
The art had no frame, no beginning or end, just 300,000 feet of seamless flow in a continuous panorama around the cavernous hall.
Play the video below to see a one minute video summary of the gorgeous 75 minute presentation.
"There is no blue without yellow and without orange." ~ Vincent Van Gogh
Interested in seeing the immersive Van Gogh experience for yourself? The exhibit is currently showing in dozens of cities in the United States and around the world. I would list them here, but more are added all the time.
"Comprised of over 4 trillion content pixels, this high-resolution portrayal of Van Gogh’s work gives guests the opportunity to become one with his paintings." - vangoghportland.com
"Golden Gate at Night" bridge sculpture near the ticket counter, made especially for the San Francisco exhibit by muralist Nathaniel J. Bice.
Looking for more fun things to do in San Francisco? Here are a few ideas:
Visit DriveSwimFly again for stories about these exciting activities, publishing soon:
- North Beach Food Tour in Little Italy
- Dragon Dancers in America's Oldest Chinatown
- Haunting Ghost Stories from Alcatraz Island
- Levi Strauss - The History of American Jeans
- Levi Strauss - Museum of Retro to Modern Jeans