A massive, immersive exhibit celebrating artist Vincent van Gogh drew on Broadway talent for a little dazzle during his visit to New York City.
The producers of “Immersive Van Gogh” turned to Tony Award-winning set designer David Korins for creative help after securing a stunning 70,000-square-foot venue for their exhibition in Lower Manhattan, by far the most large exhibition space.
“They wanted something bigger, more sophisticated, deeper,” said Korins, who designed sets for “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen” and is a longtime Van Gogh fan. “I really wanted to try to find a way to help people in 2021 see him more like a human.”
Korins added a ceiling installation that uses nearly 8,000 paintbrushes to excitingly replicate “Starry Night,” a station that uses artificial intelligence to give visitors a personalized letter from Van Gogh, a chance to co-create a work with him on their phone. , and cabins that explore the artist’s synesthesia.
Corey Ross, the lead producer of “Immersive Van Gogh,” said the show leans into every place it lands and New York is the biggest challenge of any city it visits.
“The question was, really, how do we get the essence of New York?” he said. “And, of course, David Korins is someone whose job I love and he’s the best guy. So he was the first to call.
Some elements of Korins’ work should be added to future visits to other cities. The exhibition has already been shown in San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and Paris and plans to expand to more than a dozen cities in North America, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.
The heart of the show is the same in every city – a 38-minute digital film projected through the imposing space that dynamically and elegantly weaves images of Van Gogh’s paintings on the walls and on the ground to a soundtrack of soft music. electronic and ethereal piano. These parts were designed by Massimiliano Siccardi, with original music by Luca Longobardi.
The show’s arrival in New York City comes as the city emerges from a lockdown that has closed cultural events and art crowds. “I feel like this is a huge and bright beacon of hope for the arts in New York City,” Korins said.
All visitors are required to wear masks and social distancing signals are sprinkled throughout the exhibit. Korins made sure nothing needed to be touched, perhaps except visitors’ cell phones. He said it was normal that Van Gogh was often isolated: “He is a perfect artist, and now is the perfect time because we have all struggled with isolation.”
There has recently been an explosion of renewed interest in the Dutch post-impressionist artist, and “Immersive Van Gogh” is just one of many traveling exhibitions that combine his work with technology. There’s even a rival in New York a few miles away, “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience”.
The producers of “Immersive Van Gogh” in New York had so much space – the location on Pier 36 once housed 25 basketball courts – that they designed three galleries, each larger than the next, in which viewers can. to walk or sit. benches and watch Van Gogh’s work float.
Korins added several large mirror sculptures to the galleries – some curved, some straight – that reflect and refract digital images. The visitor is also greeted at the entrance by one of the last self-portraits of Van Gogh enlarged to realize the nuance and the brushstrokes of the master.
Korins hopes visitors can leave with more knowledge about Van Gogh than the mere fact that he was the artist who cut off his ear and painted “The Starry Night”. Korins reminds people that Van Gogh was a poor man who only sold one painting in his life. “He did so many self-portraits because he didn’t have the money to pay for the models,” Korins said. “He painted sunflowers because they were free.
One of the more notable additions attempts to immerse viewers in the mind of Van Gogh, who had a form of synesthesia called chromesthesia in which he was able to hear color and see sound. Audiences walk through 10 booths based on the colors most often used in their paintings and get a light and sound experience that mimics how people with chromesthesia react to certain colors.
“This condition is now seen as a gift,” Korins said. “But he was completely misunderstood. And so here’s a way that you can kind of get into the experience.
IF YOU ARE GOING: The New York location for “Immersive Van Gogh” is Pier 36 in Manhattan (299 South St.). It is scheduled for September 6. For more information, visit vangoghnyc.com or call 844-307-4644.
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