Daily Distraction: Washington Post says museum's Van Gogh exhibit trumps 'immersive' show

'If you really want to get to know Van Gogh, skip the immersive experiences and visit this Ohio museum' writes Kelsey Ables of the Columbus Museum of Art's 'Through Vincent's Eyes' exhibition

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
"The Wheatfield" by Vincent van Gogh

In recent weeks, I've talked to several people who have ventured out to see the work of Vincent Van Gogh. In each case, after befuddled looks in response to my follow-up questions, it became apparent that these folks went to the "Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Columbus" experience rather than the current Van Gogh exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art, "Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources." Some didn't even know about the CMA show.

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This must be a frustrating reality for museums that, in addition to battling staff cuts and other financial struggles related to the pandemic, are also now in competition with touring art startups that rent out huge indoor spaces (e.g. a former FrontRoom Furnishings store for "Immersive Van Gogh") and fill it with projected art from instantly recognizable names.

And it's not just Van Gogh. "Michelangelo: A Different View" is currently on view at the Columbus Convention Center, where you can stare at large-scale reproductions of the Sistine Chapel. 

More:The Other Columbus: When a painting is like a lover

The Washington Post explored this dynamic late last week, writing about recent "immersive" Van Gogh experiences and "Through Vincent's Eyes" at the Columbus Museum of Art (on view through Feb. 6). "You’re likely to leave an immersive Van Gogh event feeling like you’ve been immersed in little more than the capabilities of a projector," writes Kelsey Ables, who goes on to note that CMA's exhibition "does not perpetuate Van Gogh the 'crazy genius,' but instead adds layers to our understanding of the man and provides necessary artistic context by displaying his works alongside those of his influences."

More:Van Gogh at the Columbus Museum of Art: “Through Vincent’s Eyes”

At CMA, Van Gogh's work is explored in its full complexity, Ables argues, but that same "richness and messiness ... is missing from those slick, camera-ready immersive experiences." Read the whole column here.