Larger than life, Van Gogh comes alive at Discovery Place

04/24/2014 3:05 PM

04/25/2014 10:00 AM

He probably didn’t cut off his whole ear, just a lobe. He died a failure, having sold only one painting. He created most of his famous works in the last two years of his troubled life.

Vincent Van Gogh also painted on small canvases, but his larger-than-life multimedia exhibition opening Friday at Discovery Place won’t be contained. Van Gogh’s works will be cast as giants across a gallery accompanied by a soundtrack from Bach, Handel and other classical composers.

More than 3,000 images of Van Gogh’s paintings, sketches and letters will be splashed digitally from wall to floor, immersing visitors in his work through 40 high-definition projectors.

“Van Gogh Alive,” which comes to Charlotte from Moscow and moves on in 40 days to Philadelphia, is designed to intensify the emotional experience of the artist’s labors. It also provides the rare microscopic view of his highly-textured brush strokes, unusual for his era.

“Guests may have had previous opportunities to see a few authentic paintings in a gallery, but ‘Van Gogh Alive’ brings thousands of Van Gogh’s images under one roof in a stunning audio-visual format,” says Catherine Wilson Horne, Discovery Place’s president.

Van Gogh is a departure for Discovery Place, which tends to showcase scientific exhibits. But the immersive Sensory 4 technology, used in the recent the “101 Inventions That Changed the World,” drew the museum to the show, said Kaitlin Rogers, Discovery Place’s marketing manager.

In one corner, for example, guests’ silhouettes are digitally painted with Van Gogh’s style of color and light in an experience created by artist Ivan Toth Depena in collaboration with the McColl Center for Visual Art.

Another local touch for the Charlotte visit of the exhibition is the presence of actors who interpret Van Gogh’s life. Greeting visitors in character will be Van Gogh; his brother Theo; his artistic contemporary Paul Gauguin; or his model, Adeline Raxous.

Running concurrently with the exhibit, sponsored by Wells Fargo, is the IMAX movie “Van Gogh: Brush with Genius.”

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