Immersive Van Gogh, a unique art exhibit that just opened in San Francisco on March 18, is a fanciful and remarkable escape from our world into a land of sunlit countrysides, endless flowers and star-filled nights. The distinctive, often dreamlike paintings of the famous Dutch painter are turned into huge, moving animations for this exhibition, which combine digital projections and music to create a truly immersive experience. It’s an eye-opening introduction into the growing field of immersive art, and is a fun new way for all ages to appreciate Van Gogh’s paintings. Here’s the scoop on what you’ll see when you check out this exhibit.
Massimiliano Siccardi, the creative director of this exhibit, was inspired by Van Gogh’s quote, “I dream my painting and I paint my dream”, and the approximately 40-minute exhibition feels remarkably like stepping into a dream. In the darkness, images taken from Van Gogh’s paintings appear on the walls and floor of the empty space: pastoral landscapes, sunflowers and irises, streets filled with people, and the famous starry night.
The images continually move and morph, so you can see brushstrokes forming an image, the sun moving across a yellow sky, and flowers blooming. One of the most effective sections of the piece makes viewers feel like they are slowly descending down from the night sky past tall towers, onto a busy street lined with cafes lit by candles. At that moment you feel truly immersed in Van Gogh’s vision. The accompanying original score by Luca Longobardi also creates a contemplative, dreamy mood as the exhibition progresses through Van Gogh’s various pieces, roughly tracing his life.
The exhibition takes place in a single large gallery space at SVN West. Once you step inside, you see ceiling projectors projecting images on all four walls, and hear music filling the space—you’re instantly immersed in sights and sounds. Visitors are spaced out in social distancing circles on the floor, and there is an elevated viewing platform in the center. Definitely move around the entire space to experience the exhibit from all angles. Admissions are limited to comply with city capacity guidelines, and temperature checks are required upon arrival. All guests must wear a face covering at all times during their visit.
Ticket prices start at $39.99 ($24.99 for children 16 or younger), with VIP, timed, and flexible ticket options available. The exhibition runs through Monday, September 6, 2021, and tickets are already selling out for the month of March. For kids, this exhibition can provide a new way to view art and understand the creative process.
Very small children may be overwhelmed by the moments of darkness in the exhibition or the loudness of the music, but you can step outside to the adjoining gallery space for a break if needed. More often, older children seem entranced by the images slowly moving across the walls. Afterwards, when you get home you can look up some of Van Gogh’s paintings that were used for this exhibition. They might inspire your kids to create their own artwork or digital art experience: Immersive Van Gogh showcases some of the marvelous ways art may evolve in the future.
Immersive Van Gogh
SVN West, 10 S. Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA
On view through September 6, 2021
Online: vangoghsf.com or call 844-307-4644
Photos by Cheshire Isaacs