LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — You’ve probably seen lots of ads on social media for immersive art experiences lately. There are multiple companies all over the country selling this idea--soon there will be two in Las Vegas--and they all center around the same guy.
“Why has the show been so successful around van Gogh?" asked Corey Ross. "He’s a fascinating artist!"
Ross is the producer for "Immersive Van Gogh" which opens this month on the Las Vegas Strip. If you’re thinking, "Wait a minute, I went to that months ago in Las Vegas" you're probably thinking of "Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience" at AREA15.
“There’s multiple van Gogh shows today and I'd like to say each one is really cool because they offer different perspectives on who van Gogh was," said Winston Fisher, the CEO of AREA15.
"He's created these brilliant landscapes and incredible pieces that we are familiar with," said Ross, "and I think the concept of being able to enter them, actually enter the masterpiece and go through them, have them unfold around you, is attractive to people."
The First 'Immersive' van Gogh
How did this trend come to be? The first immersive van Gogh experiences started in Europe in the 2000s.
In 2017, Annabelle Mauger showed "Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition" at La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, France.
Even still, that was not the first time the world was introduced to this style of immersive art.
According to her biography, Mauger was inspired by "Cathédrale d’Images," an art experience founded by her grandparents-in-law at a historical site in South France. The name translates to "Cathedral of Images."
Atlas Obscura describes "Cathédrale d’Images" as a unique show where "living pictures," set to music, are projected onto the walls, ceilings and floors of limestone quarries for observers to walk through. Sound familiar?
Since 2012, the site has been operating under the name "Carrières de Lumières."
'Immersive Van Gogh' at Crystals on the Las Vegas Strip
One of the creators of a Las Vegas immersive van Gogh experience has ties to Carrières de Lumières.
"Massimiliano Siccardi really is the Steven Spielberg of the genre," said Ross. "He's been creating art installations in Europe for over 13 years.”
Siccardi, in collaboration with other artists, produced "Van Gogh, Starry Night" at Carrières de Lumières in France from March of 2019 to January 2020. He brought a similar van Gogh exhibit to Toronto, Canada, last year following his success in Europe before bringing it to the U.S. -- and eventually Las Vegas.
Siccardi is not the only big name tied to the project.
David Korins, who created sets for "Hamilton," contributed his expertise by making the physical sets that Siccardi projects his images onto and that people walk through while experiencing "Immersive Van Gogh."
“We have three artists refracting off each other," explained Ross, van Gogh being the third and the source material for the exhibit.
For Ross, that collaboration between the two artists involved and the way they build on van Gogh’s work is key.
"It's an examination of van Gogh, who at the time was a cutting-edge, contemporary artist who was doing things with color and brush stroke and paint that had never been seen before him," he said.
"Now, today we have two cutting-edge artists working with video and physical sets also on the edge of the genre for today."
Immersive Van Gogh opens on Sept. 15 at The Shops at Crystals on 3720 Las Vegas Boulevard, adjacent to ARIA Resort. The exhibit is on Level 3. Tickets range from $59.99 to $99.99, plus taxes and fees. To purchase tickets or learn more, visit VanGoghVegas.com.
'Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience' at AREA15
Meanwhile, at AREA15, “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” recently announced it was extending its residency due to popular demand.
The AREA15 exhibit opened in April and was supposed to end in July. It remains ongoing and no end date has been announced.
“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” does not have elaborate sets or an acclaimed filmmaker behind its projections, but it is a budget-friendly option, especially for families, and offers a virtual reality experience -- for an additional cost -- that "Immersive Van Gogh" does not.
Fisher believes these immersive experiences make van Gogh’s work more accessible to the general public.
"It used to be that if you want to experience van Gogh then you would go to a museum. So fortunate you might end up in the Netherlands where there is a van Gogh museum," he said. "But you really didn’t have access to his work.”
To Fisher, the popularity of immersive experiences points to their ability to bring classic artists to the masses.
"That's the way we are now learning to experience content, classic content, in the 21st century,” he said.
“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is located inside AREA15 on 3215 S Rancho Drive. Adult tickets start at $35 and kids tickets are $19. They also offer locals discounts with a Nevada ID and family packs. To buy tickets or learn more visit AREA15.com.
What's Next for Immersive Art Experiences?
While the explosion of immersive art experiences in the U.S. has largely centered around van Gogh, these types of experiences do exist for other artists, too.
Ross says his team is working on a deal to produce an immersive exhibit featuring works by Salvador Dalí.
"I can't imagine a more exciting artist to step inside his surreal world. It will be an amazing adventure."
The show will likely come to Las Vegas, Ross says. Stay tuned for more information on that.
This story is from our "Las Vegas Art Scene" segment in our newly-launched dedicated digital show "How to Vegas." Watch "How to Vegas" on Fridays at 2:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. -- and all weekend long -- using the KTNV app on your favorite streaming device.