‘Beyond Van Gogh’ Exhibit Reveals the Man Behind the Art

Beyond Van Gogh provides a new look at the world-famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh. Here’s what to expect.

World-famous artist Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch artist who was celebrated only after his death, but many people aren’t aware of what (or who) pushed for his work to be noticed. Beyond Van Gogh will not only give you information about the artist that you didn’t know you needed, but you’ll also have the chance to see his work in a never-before-seen way.

What to Expect from Beyond Van Gogh

Hosted at the TCF Center, the Beyond Van Gogh exhibition is a large, walk-through exhibit that will take you a little more than an hour to get through. Those reluctant to go out should still consider visiting the socially distant exhibit. The show was originally created to be a contactless experience, and as long as you stay further back from other patrons, the exhibit is perfect for those who are still unsure about getting close to others just yet. 

When arriving, you’ll be greeted by a staff member who will explain a bit about the exhibit. They’ll give you a little information about the show, what you’ll have a chance to see and the duration of the exhibit. The exhibit encourages pictures but be sure to turn your flash off. Camera flashes will not only disrupt other viewers, but your picture won’t come out clearly. The first part of the exhibit will consist of you walking from screen to screen, reading the narrative provided. Afterward is a 40-minute immersive experience that takes place in a single room.

The exhibit is fairly dark and most of the light comes from the various screens that are presented throughout the exhibit. Although actual pieces of Van Gogh’s works aren’t physically in front of you, the high-resolution images give you enough detail to almost feel the paintings. Those who have always wanted to get very close to a Van Gogh and see the texture of the paint have the opportunity with these screens. The details and quality make the paintings feel as if they jump off the screen.

Beyond Van Gogh was Brotherly Love

Passing every screen gives you the chance to read a bit about the life of the artist. Van Gogh exhibits usually focus on Van Gogh’s psychosis, and viewers get an idea of Vincent’s psychological torment and how that affected his art. However, this exhibit did something a little different.

Rather than focusing on Vincent’s descent into madness, we take a look at the relationship Vincent had with his brother, Theo Van Gogh. The reason Vincent’s paintings are as famous as they are today is primarily due to the love of his brother. As you pass through the beginning of the exhibit, you get to read stories about Theo and Vincent’s relationship, the support Theo tried to give Vincent, and the brotherly love these two shared. Although there were plenty of times their relationship seemed strained, the narrative direction this exhibit takes shows that the pair had a deep admiration for one another. 

Through letters, quotes, and known history, we learn more about how Theo and Vincent interacted. It provides a perspective on Vincent that perhaps most viewers wouldn’t know. It’s a wonderful narrative that is perfect for families.

Beyond Van Gogh
Image courtesy of Leijah Petelka.

Beyond Van Gogh’s Art Room

Once you’ve finished walking through and reading the story, you’ll find yourself in the main attraction of the exhibit: The Van Gogh projection room. Although there is a bit of a narrative within the room, you can walk in at any point and pick up where the story is. 

When you enter, you’ll immediately find yourself thrown into a Van Gogh painting. Regardless of where you start within the 40-minute exhibit, you’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking art and colors. Each portrait or flower painting will appear on the walls all around you, giving you a chance to look closely at the works.

The art also had a few digital tweaks done in a way to keep your attention. While staring closely at Van Gogh’s famous Portrait of Joseph Roulin (1889), I could have sworn he blinked at me. The transitions for these digital images are phenomenal. One moment, you’ll find yourself sitting in a field of flowers then, suddenly, the flowers bleed away and start to form Van Gogh’s paintings of French cafes. And don’t get me started on basking in the starlight of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Keep in mind, there is a limit on seating in this part of the exhibit. This could be difficult for some families, but there were smaller children present who were dazzled by being so in the art.

Heading to Beyond Van Gogh

Beyond Van Gogh is an amazing experience, and it’s something that the whole family can enjoy together. The beginning part of the exhibit gives you information about the artist that is new and it gives you a new perspective on how the artist worked and lived. However, nothing compares to finding yourself in a Van Gogh original.

Beyond Van Gogh will continue to run until October 3. Be sure to purchase your tickets before they sell out!

TCF Center, Hall D. 1 Washington Blvd, Detroit. vangoghdetroit.com. Hours: 10am-10pm, Sunday-Thursday; 10am-11pm, Friday-Saturday.

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