It was summertime last year when I first started seeing the advertisements for the Immersive Van Gogh experience. I looked when to see it would come to Nashville and was happy to see that tickets were open and the exhibit would begin a few months later. So I ordered tickets for December thinking that would be a fun way to celebrate our anniversary. But December came and I got an email saying it was being delayed till February. Then February came and an email said it was delayed until March. So by this point I was feeling a little grumbly about the whole thing. I kept waiting to see if March would bring a similar email with notice of delay. But that email never came and so we made our way to see this Van Gogh Experience we had heard so much about.
We walked into the building and were immediately met by a wall of sunflowers and a lovely swirl of pages of Van Gogh’s writings. Van Gogh was an avid letter writer and most of those letters have been preserved. Nearly 1000 letters written by the artist have been preserved. Most of the letters were to his brother Theo. Theo was a loyal supporter and a best friend to Vincent throughout his life. Theo kept and preserved the many letters sent to him over the years from his dear brother Vincent.
We walked into the exhibit and were met with a small room covered in sunflowers. This room then led to another larger room where benches were spread out and areas to sit on the floor were designated.
Because of one room leading to the next, we assumed that this was how the whole exhibit would be going from room to room. But when we went to what we thought would be the next room in the progression we found ourselves upstairs on a level overlooking the great room below. The music began and the artwork of Van Gogh moved onto the large wall spaces. Then we understood that there were not multiple rooms to walk through and that you’re suppose to just sit and watch and enjoy. We found a bench and sat down to see the artistry come to life.
We decided though that coming to the top level was the greatest decision that we could have made. The art swelled on the walls next to us but we could also see it moving across the large wall below us at the same time. Immersive was right, I felt like I was part of the artwork and it was incredible.
The other great part about the higher level were the pillars of mirrors that were in the center of the area. These made for some spectacular pictures with fragmented pieces of the famous paintings.
The many works by Van Gogh swept across the room giving a visual timeline of his life and his art. Van Gogh was never commercially famous or popular during his life. He struggled with depression and psychotic episodes. Van Gogh was one of many during this time that believed in order to be a good artist you had to be part of the art you were creating, to take in the art to create the art. With this in mind, some artists during that time actually consumed the paint as they were painting because they believed so strongly in this idea. Some historians believe that this artistic consumption was what led to the psychosis that he struggled with since so much of the paint was lead based.
While today Van Gogh is considered one of the greatest artists, during his life his art hardly received any notice at all. Van Gogh’s portfolio included over 2100 paintings, most of those were painted in the last two years of his life. But he was a man before his time and his art was not fully appreciated until after his death in July 1890. He is now thought to be one of the most famous and most influential artists and was a leading influence in the beginning of modern art.
There is no denying that Van Gogh was a troubled soul. But from that heartache came some some beautiful art that continues to connect to people in their own heartaches.
The experience is set up as a 30 minute immersion into the artwork. We stayed to watch it through a second time and found that we loved it all the more the second time. Though I was pretty grumbly about it in the previous months, the sight of seeing those bold colors move across the space completely changed me and the whole experience was pretty incredible.
We are not exactly art museum people. While I enjoy learning about the different art periods and how they defined art, my knowledge of art and technique is very limited. And Brad is someone who is far more comfortable talking physics than art. But the Immersive Van Gogh seemed to really bring us in and gave us a new insight into the art and to the man behind it. I can only imagine what the experience would be like for a real artist and the inspiration they might find there.
Want some more beautiful works of art to inspire you today? Then I would suggest checking out these places:
Experiencing Van Gogh like this was something completely different. I was so glad that everything worked out so that finally we could go and see this incredible exhibit. I really felt immersed and overwhelmed by the experience and all the better for it. Thank you for joining me today as explored Van Gogh and got in touch with his art.