Vincent Van Gogh Becomes a Drive-In Star
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, July 21, 2024

Vincent Van Gogh Becomes a Drive-In Star

It would be redundant to try to claim that any one painter or artist is the best-known or most famous in history. It’s a subjective topic, and although most people would probably settle on Leonardo da Vinci as the correct answer, there would be many who’d point toward Vincent van Gogh instead. His work might mostly have gone unheralded during his lifetime, but he’s posthumously become one of the most renowned and beloved artists of all time. Because of his enduring fame and legacy, we’ve become accustomed to seeing his work turn up in some unusual locations.

Over the years, we’ve seen renditions of van Gogh’s work turn up as street art all over the world. That’s not necessarily unusual, even if it is a little unorthodox. We all shed tears as we watched the artist brought to life as a character in ‘Doctor Who’ in 2010. More recently than that, we’ve even seen him on the reels of online slots. An officially-licensed online slots game named simply ‘van Gogh’ made its debut with several online slots websites around a year ago. He’s not the only representative of the world of art to show up in such a seemingly strange place - there’s more than one da Vinci-themed online slots game, too, but it’s a testament to the familiarity and popularity of both artists that anyone would even think of creating such a thing. Now, van Gogh is about to make history again.

In June, a brand new van Gogh art installation will open up in Toronto, Canada - and it will be unlike any exhibition of the Dutch master’s art that you’ve ever seen before. You won’t walk around and admire any paintings on the walls. You won’t sit in quiet contemplation in front of a canvas, taking his work in slowly and admiring his brushwork. Instead, you’ll experience the world of van Gogh from the comfort of your own car as if you were going to an American drive-in cinema. The exhibition will be the world’s first (and quite possibly the world’s only) drive through Vincent van Gogh celebration.

While this might sound like a novelty - and will certainly be viewed as some purists as a novelty - the exhibition won't be charging novelty prices. It will cost approximately $70 US dollars to gain entry, and tickets have to be bought in advance. Both of those facts might be an indicator that the organizers of the exhibition are anticipating high demand for their cutting-edge innovation. While some traditionalists will no doubt see this as reducing art to something no more culturally significant that a drive-through McDonald's service, others are likely to welcome it as another means of opening art up to the public and making a conscious effort to reach a wider audience. If an artist had to be selected for that purpose, it makes sense to go with van Gogh. Even those who know nothing about art are likely to be familiar with at least some of his work, even if it is only 'Sunflowers.'

The exhibition is a follow-on to an earlier 'immersive gallery' experience offered by the same team and focused around the same artist. In that prior exhibition, participants were able to 'step inside' the world of the Dutchman's paintings and experience them as if they were a living world around you. The exhibition turned plenty of heads in the world of art and demonstrated the possibilities that virtual and augmented reality can bring to the appreciation of art. The paintings might have been created a very long time ago, but thanks to breakthroughs in tech and creativity, we're still finding new ways to appreciate them. We don't know how Vincent himself might have felt about that, but we like to think that someone as technically-minded as da Vinci would have found a reason to smile.

So far, we don’t have any certainty regarding what the exhibition might look like, but we’ve seen some interesting looking artist’s impressions of the converted warehouse that it will be held in. We also have some idea of the format. This won't be a gallery that you can take the time to peruse at your leisure. A ticket to enter permits you to watch one 'showing' of the exhibition, which lasts for approximately 35 minutes and is described as a full 'sound and light' show. The warehouse covers four thousand square feet and should, therefore, allow for images to be projected to enormous sizes on the walls, and also presumably onto the ceiling. A maximum of fourteen cars will be allowed into the warehouse simultaneously to enjoy the show, which might explain why there's so much emphasis on obtaining tickets before you turn up. With that kind of restriction in place, the exhibit is likely to fill up very quickly. Provisionally, the show has been called 'Gogh In Your Car,' which may or may not work as a pun depending on how you pronounce the name 'Gogh.'

We expect there to be a lot of interest in this project. It's a combination of a well known and popular artist, and a new way of displaying art that will appeal to people who might find the average trip to a museum or art gallery too stale or stuffy. That's why we suggest acting quickly if you're going to be in or around Canada in June, and you don't mind paying the slightly eyebrow-raising entry price. As of the time of writing, tickets are still available from the 'Immersive van Gogh' webpage, but that could change at any time. If tickets do sell out, interested parties are reminded to check back for cancellations and pick up unwanted tickets from people who can no longer attend.

While art should always move forward, there is and always should be a place for the masters and the classics. We expect van Gogh to be as popular one hundred years from now as he is today, and we can only imagine what new ways might have been found to allow us to enjoy his work by then.

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