Across social media and in nearly 40 cities in the U.S. alone, people are walking through Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings — or at least projections of them.
The immersive Van Gogh craze is coming to North Texas this summer with two of the five exhibits currently touring the U.S. stopping in Dallas. The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit and Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience, hereby known as the Exhibit and the Experience. That’s our attempt to clarify what is clearly confusing: the two shows will be competing for the same audience with almost identical products. The products are advertised so similarly that New York’s Better Business Bureau had to issue a warning to make sure people knew what show they had purchased tickets for.
When: will be running from August 7 until October 3 at the Lighthouse Dallas in the East Quarter. The Exhibit was originally set to open on June 17 but it was pushed back to August 7. Tickets will be moved back, so that if they were purchased for the opening day in June will be moved to the opening day in August. If ticketholders cannot attend the new time, they can change their dates or request a refund.
- VIP Tickets for $99. This ticket gives you priority access, a Van Gogh cushion (to keep), a limited edition poster, a VIP souvenir laminate, and built-in FLEX perks.
- Flex Tickets for $54.99 – $59.99. This ticket gives you flexibility to arrive up to 2 hour prior to or after your selected start time, although this is subject to the hours the exhibit is open.
- Peak-Time Tickets for $49.99.
- Off-Peak Time Tickets for $39.99.
- Child Tickets for $29.99.
Claim to fame: The Exhibit was shown on the Netflix TV show “Emily in Paris,” and features consecutive rooms with the same video projection by Massimiliano Siccardi with a soundtrack by Luca Longobardi. Viewers can sit on the floor or on benches if they do not have the VIP tickets, which come with a cushion.
When: Begins Wednesday, July 21 and run until November 28 at an as yet undisclosed location.
- Standard Tickets
- Adult: $34.90
- Child (12 and under): $19.90
- Family Pass: $22.40 (Two Adults two children)
- For an additional child in the family pass: $16.20
- Student or Military: $24.90
- VIP Tickets which includes the ability entry and ability to skip the line for the VR experience (which standard ticket holders must pay access to onsite) and a limited edition poster.
- Adult: $54.50
- Child: $34.90
Claim to fame: The Experience similarly has video projections of Van Gogh’s work, but offers more background information on his life and has beach chairs for spectators to sit on. This show also offers a 10 minute VR experience that supposedly walks the spectator through a day in Van Gogh’s life, however this experience must be purchased on site by standard ticket holders.
Critics and fans
While the New York Times critic Jason Farago did not seem to enjoy either exhibit remarking in his critique that “Like Vincent, I too suffer for my art, and so I attended both of them,” he did recommend the Exhibit over the Experience because he thought the graphics were better.
Quality control was the biggest concern of Chris Garcia, a North Texas Van Gogh fan, who purchased tickets in April for October tickets to the Experience. He has since cancelled those tickets and is planning on purchasing tickets to the Exhibit. In his free time, he has traveled to see van Gogh’s paintings in person and has even recreated a few of his paintings. For him, this is just another way to experience van Gogh’s art.
“I think it is an experience of seeing a painting on a wall that is pretty small. It is almost like an ability to walk amongst or in the painting,” Garcia said. “I have done a few copies of his works just to learn and get a better idea of how he painted, his approach, and how he did it. [The projections] being so large gives a great opportunity for that.”
While the Experience has more of a focus on education, including into his methodology, Farago remarked that it was the same amount of information as his “wikipedia entry.” He also pointed out that both exhibits painted van Gogh as “as a lone, tortured genius rather than a figure of history” whose artistic style, while innovative, was part of a wider movement away from impressionism.
Cindy Ingram is the owner of Art Class Curator, an organization dedicated to introducing art teachers and their students to more art, and she has heard similar criticisms within her art education circles. However, she is very strongly in favor of these exhibits and is planning on attending one of the two immersive van Gogh events when they come to Dallas.
She says that arguments against these sorts of exhibits can be elitist because they often imply the only correct way to experience art is in museums, which many people do not feel welcomed in. Even if people are only going to the immersive experiences for an Instagram post and even if they don’t learn anything new, Ingram still thinks they are important.
“You know there is a lot that art offers and it is not about teaching you something,” Ingram said. “I think a lot of people go to museums thinking: I am going to go to a museum to learn about art. I think you should go to experience art to learn about yourself.”