Vincent Van Gogh’s art has been sweeping the nation with its revival in the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit, and now fans of his work will be flocking to Scottsdale to see it.
The digitally interactive exhibit — which spans 500,000 cubic feet of projector screens — runs through November 28 at Lighthouse Artspace in Old Town.
“This show is a new way of looking at art,” says Rowan Doyle, “Immersive Van Gogh” creative director.
“On one hand, it is an art exhibit, but that’s only the beginning,” says Corey Ross, president of Lighthouse Productions. “Technically it’s a short animated film.”
The exhibit offers several ways for guests to explore the works of Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch painter who is best known for paintings like “The Starry Night,” “Sunflowers” and several self- portraits.
“Van Gogh was the high-tech artist of his day,” Ross says. “His inspiration and his ability to capture ‘The Starry Night’ was a technological innovation.”
Beyond his posthumous fame for innovation and creativity as an artist, Van Gogh has gained notoriety for his battle with mental health, which culminated in him dying by suicide.
“I think Van Gogh, as a subject matter, works well because difficulties he had with depression and isolation have become more relatable,” Ross says. “When you come out into these galleries and realize that he struggled with the same things that many of us have had to in the last year and that the art has transcended the troubles that he had, people were finding that cathartic and inspirational. I think that’s part of why the show has become part of the zeitgeist.”
The last years of Van Gogh’s life have become the most studied time of his life. Created by videographer Massimiliano Siccardi, the exhibit reflects what may have been flashing through Van Gogh’s mind.
“This is really a film that Massimiliano Siccardi has created, and the way he explains it is he’s trying to capture what might have flashed before Van Gogh’s eyes the moments before he passed away,” Ross says.
The 40-minute film, played on a continuous loop, features visual representations of some of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works — synchronized with music created by composer Luca Longobardi — across walls covered by projection screens that reflect onto the floor of the exhibit, giving viewers an immersive experience.
Beyond the main exhibit, “Immersive Van Gogh” offers other attractions that help understand the artist’s mysterious life. The exhibit has a timeline of the artist’s life and quotes from some of the 800 letters he penned, mostly to his brother, Theo.
Featured are more than 40 paintings and over 400 images that were licensed as part of the exhibit.
“To have a show like this, which is the first thing that many people have experienced coming out of their homes and coming in to see any type of entertainment or exhibit, has been very rewarding for our audiences,” Ross says.
There are several measures in place to encourage social distancing within the exhibit, like circles for people to stand in the main exhibit and timed tickets.
“We give people a time to arrive so we can control the volume of people in the gallery, but we don’t give people a time to leave, so people will often come in and stay for a couple iterations of it,” Ross said.
“Immersive Van Gogh” is the first exhibit to inhabit Lighthouse Productions, which used to be the office space for corporate tenants like Carvana.
“Lighthouse Artspace Scottsdale is really a new cultural artspace that merges art, technology and immersive world building in a unique entertainment experience,” says Diana Rayzman, “Immersive Van Gogh” co-producer and co-founder of Impact Museums.
Lighthouse Productions will bring more shows to Scottsdale after Immersive Van Gogh closes.
“This is not a touring show. This is a permanent installation here,” Ross says of Lighthouse Artspace. “Our hope is that Massimiliano and other artists will bring us fabulous creations that we can exhibit in the years to come.”
Rayzman hopes the exhibit will boost other artistic sites in Scottsdale.
“After a really difficult year and a half, we are so thrilled to bring thousands of visitors every day to this community and hope that our guests will stay to experience the many things this town has to offer,” she says.
Ross is also excited to see how the exhibit works in Scottsdale and believes it will change the way patrons view art.
“I really think this is the beginning of a whole movement and will be really exciting to see where this goes,” he says.
“Immersive Van Gogh”
When: Various hours through Sunday, November 28
Where: Lighthouse Artspace, 4301 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Cost: Tickets start at $39.99