Van Gogh Alive in Frankfurt: Art for Almost All the Senses |

Immersing yourself in a work of art takes on a new meaning in this exhibition: in “Van Gogh Alive”, the paintings of the Dutch painter can not only be viewed, but also experienced through many senses.

Von Tamara Marsalkowski

Vincent van Gogh’s paintings have been exhibited all over the world for more than 100 years, for example at the Frankfurt Stiedel exhibition in 2019 in the exhibition “Making van Gogh”. But it has not yet been shown in Hesse in this way: as a multisensory, immersive exhibition that makes it possible to become part of Van Gogh’s art.

There’s been a real buzz around programs like this for a few years now. The touring exhibition Van Gogh Alive, now stopping in Frankfurt, is a multi-media show that takes the Dutch artist and makes his work a sensory experience.

Van Gogh’s art…

… Look

Wherever you head into the 800-square-meter space factory: you’re surrounded by a night sky, Van Gogh’s stars twinkle everywhere. Yellow swirls move and thus enhance the brush-work which is so typical of him, and powerful projections make his colors shine.

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Opening of the exhibition “Van Gogh Alive”


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The exhibition displays some 3,000 extracts from Van Gogh’s paintings, including famous landscapes, sunflowers, and portraits. Sometimes a monumental work occupies the entire area, and sometimes several related works flow together. And every now and then individual elements of the pictures come to life: suddenly, for example, a shot is fired and the crows in the wheat field fly up into the sky, dumbfounded.

… Smell

Once you get used to the flow of the images, you will also notice the scents: a combination of different nuances. At first floral with notes of lemon, then the scent starts to change. It gets spicier and you notice a hint of nutmeg. Finally, comes the scent of cedar.

Up to ten different scents will be brought to express the feeling of Provence. The Dutch painter lived there for a long time. “Van Gogh often painted in wheat fields or in the garden and that’s when he noticed these smells,” explains Annika Boehm, spokeswoman for Grand Experiences, organizer of the exhibition.

… He listens

The exhibition also includes music that goes with the rhythm of the images. As in cinema, it is played through the Dolby Surround system and not only dramatizes Van Gogh’s images, but also the quotes that often compliment his works. They come from the painter’s letters to his brother and give a personal insight into his thoughts and feelings.

View the exhibition Van Gogh Alive

For example, while the starlight from the picture “Starry Night over the Rhone” appears to reflect off the ground, the “fishbowl” from Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals” can be heard. And when Van Gogh’s cherry blossoms float across the entire blue-lit factory screen, a Japanese folk song can be heard.

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Van Gogh is alive

The multi-sensory travel fair has already been seen by around 8.5 million people in more than 70 cities around the world. It is now stopping at Raumfabrik Frankfurt, a former factory building in the Heddernheim district, until May 2. The gallery is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm. Tickets cost €25 for adults and €17 for children ages 4 to 15; Children up to the age of three have free entry. It is recommended chat tickets Before to purchase.

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… keys

You cannot touch the pictures that you were immersed in in the great hall. In another room, however, a sense of touch is needed: there, Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles in southern France is reproduced, including bed, table, and chairs. All the items in the bedroom are painted in a wide coat of paint meant to simulate a paint application in its image.

If you sit on the bed and take a selfie, it seems that you are in the middle of the drawn picture. The only thing you can’t lie under is the sheets – they got really tough from all the paint.

… Taste

The exhibition is not so immersive that you can taste the lemon on the plate from a Van Gogh still life. You won’t get any further if you lick the display surface.

But if you feel like it, you can of course take inspiration from the experiment and put together an amazing cheese plate with Dutch cheese—or, based on his creative time in Provence, French cheese.

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Who is worth visiting?

“Van Gogh Alive” is an entertaining way to engage with the life and work of the Dutch painter for young and old who don’t like going to a museum. Art connoisseurs don’t necessarily learn anything new there – but it should also be a sensory experience for them.

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