‘Starry Night’ in the city: ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ exhibit comes to Chicago

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Grace Holleb

Guests watch as Van Gogh’s works appear in bursts of color on the walls of the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit

Grace Holleb, Features Editor

Colorful glimpses of dazzling stars twinkle, vivid sunflowers and the face of an artist without a left ear shine on lofty white walls and reflect in mirrors around each room as a soundtrack that pairs with each painting plays. With the first step inside, one is transported into a new world, surrounded by digitally projected imagery.

The “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit has come to Chicago, and the composition and transition make this experience quite unlike going to any other art exhibit. Occupying the former Germania Club building in Lincoln Park, its high ceilings and large ballrooms allow for a walkable journey through the mind and works of painter Vincent Van Gogh. Tickets are $36 per person, but pent-up demand from the pandemic has the exhibit sold out through June. 

Sitting or standing on one of the many highlighted circles on the floor to function safely with social distancing, one is able to escape their own busy life and become fixated on the art projected on each wall. Eyes move from one wall to the next as the artwork flows in a conscious stream. 

In the 35-minute show, many stages of Van Gogh’s life are examined, including his time in an asylum. The music that plays along with each painting characterizes an idiosyncratic mood and allows the viewer to individually decipher meaning behind the artwork. Instead of studying a complete painting one at a time like at a museum, each brush stroke is reflected onto the walls as each image slowly transforms into a finished piece. 

After being wrapped up in school work for the entire day, the chance to get out of my house and explore this immersive artwork exhibit was definitely worth the $36 spent. Right after the exhibit, I sped to soccer practice, but for the 35 minutes inside, I was completely transcended into the mind of Van Gogh. 

Before visiting, it may be valuable to look into the life of Van Gogh. This exhibit is not a profile or memoir about him, which makes viewers more curious about his background.

With 60,600 frames of video, 500,000 cubic feet of projections and 90 million pixels, this exhibit theatrically plays a unique digital art experience. It keeps your attention by changing visuals and audio frequently, never getting mundane.