Van Gogh All Around

Immersive Van Gogh opens up the artist’s work to a new level of appreciation over 130 years after his death.


photo by Anna Parsons

One of the self portraits of Vincent van Gogh showcased in the production.

Anna Parsons, Senior Staff Writer

In 1889, when a Dutch painter placed blue and yellow swirls onto a canvas that resembled a night sky, little did he know that over 132 years later, those swirls would come to life on over 500,000 cubic feet of projection.

Immersive Van Gogh, based on the artistical works of Vincent Van Gogh, features not only the renowned Starry Night but also pieces such as The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, and The Bedroom. And beneath the surface of an experience that may seem uneventful to some lies a peaceful enjoyment of art for others. 

At the Lighthouse Artspace on Pittsburgh’s Northside, a large room with four walls and multiple mirror columns in the middle may seem mundane, but add detailed brush strokes, intensive animation, and vibrant music, and you are greeted with a very impressive show. As viewers sit, stand, or walk around the showroom, objects and people from an array of Van Gogh’s paintings become animated, moving to the sounds of beautiful classical music across the walls and floor. 

While the only activity required by the audience is to sit and adore the art, the experience offers a relaxing and mindful time to interpret the show however one pleases. An appreciation for the intricate, select detail of the paintings is elicited from the viewers throughout the show. 

Every brush stroke, every individual unique color, every piece of texture can be seen in great proportion on the giant screens. With every turn of the head, a new element of Van Gogh’s pieces can be seen that may not be on the screen directly in front of you. 

Showcasing Van Gogh’s intricate nature of his work relays his truly impressive talent. But not only is his talent evident throughout the show, but the way in which it’s presented is highly engaging. The mixture of music and animation truly brings the stories behind the paintings to life. 

A notable part of the production occurs when a stunning overload of a field of Irises takes over the screen one by one as the music surrounding it crescendos and gets more intense. All the walls and floors are soon covered in beautiful intricately painted flowers and the sight is amazing. 

Along with his infamous flowers, another unique aspect of the show are the different self portraits of Van Gogh appearing on the screen. Multiple of them are actually upside down. Seeing the different ways the artist saw himself through his self portraits as he went through his life was highly interesting and offered great insight into his life. 

For some, however, sitting through a show of projections is not as engaging as they hoped. And while Immersive Van Gogh may not be for everyone, it is up to the viewer to appreciate the experience and take in the intended purpose the show creates, even if it is simply an hour to think and relax from usual life. 

Standing in front of me throughout the show was an older gentleman who wanted to take pictures of every new painting and projection that showed up on screen. The way he was so engaged, interested, and excited to see the production just represented how a show so beautiful has brought great happiness to those interested in the world of art. 

During his lifetime, Van Gogh only sold one of his paintings, right before his death in 1890. Today, he is regarded as one of the most famous artists to have lived. His work has been adored across the world and has now been made into an incredible projection of artistry for thousands to enjoy. The Immersive Van Gogh experience showcases the wonderful talent of Vincent van Gogh in a way never before seen, creating a greater appreciation for him and his work.