Beyond Van Gogh

For the approximately 50 years we lived in Southern California, we would attend an event call the Pageant of the Masters in beautiful Laguna Beach.  Now, if I describe this event to you, you’ll probably say, What?  Let’s find out.   Pageant of the Masters creates living version of artist’s masterpieces, creating huge painted background and posing real people in costume and makeup on the backgrounds. What?  When I first heard of it, that’s what I said, but everyone said it was wonderful … and it sold out every year … so we went.  And it was wonderful.  The lighting made the paintings look like 2-dimentional faithful reproductions and each was accompanied by music from a live orchestra and a narrator talking about the painting.  It didn’t hurt that it was held outdoors in the Irvine Bowl on a balmy Socal evening.

Last week I had a similar experience here in Utah.   Over the summer I received an advertisement for something called Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. The ad read thus: In an imaginative and immersive presentation crafted for our unique times by world renowned audiovisual designers, Beyond Van Gogh uses cutting-edge projection technology to create an engaging journey into the world of Van Gogh. Using his dreams, his thoughts, and his words to drive the experience as a narrative, we move along projection swathed walls wrapped in light, colour, and shapes that swirl, dance and refocus into flowers, cafes and landscapes. Masterpieces, now freed from frames, come alive, appear and disappear, flow across multi-surfaces, the minutia of details titillating our heightened senses. Through his own words set to a symphonic score, we may come to a new appreciation of this tortured artist’s stunning work.

Now, Van Gogh is a favorite, so my first reaction was Let’s Go. But my Inner Art Purist (we all have one of those, don’t we?) said, This could be really corny. Remembering my initial reaction to Pageant of the Masters, I decided we should go. We invited our friends, Gary and Julie and ordered tickets. The event was stunningly beautiful. The show consists of two rooms. The first consists of large projected panels, displaying some of Van Gogh’s works with a summary of his life, taken mostly from his correspondence with his brother, Theo. The second room, The Immersion, was a massive space with projections of Van Gogh’s works on four walls, the floor and towering panels in the center of the room. During the approximately half-hour show, paintings appeared from nowhere, only to change to another work, sometimes in a wave of color that moved around the room and sometimes stroke-by-stroke. And the paintings become animated … water glistened, birds flew,cflowers fluttered, as if in the wind … and self-portraits blinked, (if you watched closely). My Inner Art Purist was silenced.

It is really impossible to describe Beyond Van Gogh, but fortunately, the presenters see word of mouth (or rather videos of phone) as good advertising, so we were allowed to take pictures and videos. This is a a compilation of just a few of the videos I took. This is about a 3 minute video. You can watch a longer version on YouTube at .

Beyond Van Gogh: A Small Taste of the Immersive Experience

Footnote: There are two immersive Van Gogh experiences circulating around the country. I know nothing about the other one. I’d highly recommend this Beyond Van Gogh (a schedule by city and some professional videos are here). I recently read that an immersive Monet experience is on its way.

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One Comment on “Beyond Van Gogh”

  1. I was gonna check this out, but it was sort of pricey. (40 something dollars if I remember correctly) It’s really cool, but it’s akin to “seeing the movie” whereas an actual painting would be “reading the book.”

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