We can’t tell you where to “gogh” to see the Immersive Van Gogh exhibition in Pittsburgh — that detail will be revealed by the producer in the next month or so — but more than 34,000 tickets have already been sold.
The show, which casts projections of Dutch impressionist Vincent van Gogh’s paintings on walls and floors, debuts on September 21 and runs through Thanksgiving. Ticket prices start at $39.99. The attraction will visit 13 cities this year. Sites in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago have already extended van Gogh’s stay into 2022.
Co-producer Corey Ross of Lighthouse Immersive says the exhibit is a new way of encountering art. He likens it to the way a DJ samples beats from different songs to create a whole new groove.
The an Italian-born film producer and digital artist Massimiliano Siccardi — who serves as creative director for Lighthouse — has been orchestrating the immersive shows for 30 years. Ross describes Siccardi as “the Steven Spielberg of installation art shows.” To create his Vincent van Gogh masterpiece, which debuted in Paris in 2018, Siccardi curated 60,600 frames of video, 90,000,000 pixels and 500,000 cubic feet of projections all set to original music by Luca Longobardi.
These aren’t just static images in a frame; visitors purchase a timed ticket which allows them to literally step into the animated artwork to watch sunflowers sway and starry night skies twinkle. Circles projected on the floor help people maintain social distancing as they explore, but they can go through the exhibit as many times as they like. Picture taking (minus the flash) and Instagram posting are encouraged.
Most guests spend over an hour marveling at the brushstrokes and paint drips in van Gogh’s magnified work. Capacity will be limited in accordance with the City of Pittsburgh’s Covid protocols, whatever they may be at the time. Additional safety precautions include touchless ticketing, temperature checks upon arrival and hand sanitizer stations. All guests must wear a face covering at all times during their visit.
It takes about a month to set up all of the show’s projectors and fiber optic cables. Ross says he tries to select large, vacant buildings that have historical or architectural significance. In Toronto, for example, 200,000 filtered through the Toronto Star Building, which once held the newspaper’s printing presses, to see Immersive Van Gogh. The Fillmore, San Francisco’s original rock and roll landmark, also hosted the event. Every aspect of the space, from brick walls to columns to archways, becomes part of the show.
Vincent van Gogh’s work was not celebrated until after his death in 1890. The artist spent a lot of time in isolation, which is something that Ross believes everyone can relate to during the pandemic.
“I think people will find this show very cathartic,” he says.