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Van Gogh Alive - The Birmingham Hippodrome. 7 October 2020.
Van Gogh Alive. Photograph Simon Hadley

There are TWO immersive Vincent Van Gogh shows on the way

In the red corner: ‘Van Gogh Alive’. In the blue corner: ‘Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience’. FIGHT!

By
Chris Waywell
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Vincent Van Gogh famously only sold one painting in his lifetime. He would probably be bemused by his posthumous bankability: his works are among the most expensive canvases ever sold at auction. And the idea of rival immersive touring shows of his works would surely blow what was left of the poor sod’s mind. 

Still, that’s what's on the cards. You may remember (you may not) that before the global viral pandemic, an immersive Van Gogh show called ‘Meet Vincent’ was coming to London, full of interactive bits and bobs, headphones and shared touch screens and other NOT COVID SAFE stuff. Anyway, it never made it. Now, though, another two are looming on the horizon.

First up is ‘Van Gogh Alive’. This touring show has been seen in 65 cities worldwide by a combined audience of more than 7 million people. Which is a lot. For its London gig, it’s arriving in the elegant Kensington Gardens for four months from June (a lot posher than poor old Van Gogh got during his lifetime: he lived in the decidedly not elegant Brixton and Kennington). The show promises to be a feast for all the senses, including the sense of wanting to take Instagrammable selfies. Opportunities for this are provided by a sunflower room, and a 3D recreation of Van Gogh’s famous painting of his bedroom. ‘Van Gogh Alive’ also offers visitors ‘a vibrant symphony of light, colour, sound and fragrance’ (we’re hoping that the ‘fragrance’ might evoke, say, ‘The Pink Peach Tree’ [1888] rather than, say, ‘Prisoners Exercising’ [1890]). All in all, it looks pretty great, and the beautiful location should make it a summer smash. Tickets go on sale on March 24 at 9am on the website

Van Gogh Alive
Van Gogh Alive. Photograph: Maag Zurich

Immersive Van Gogh take two is arriving in October. ‘Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience’ promises 20,000 square feet of Big Vin, in the form of giant projections of some of his most famous works, plus light and sound installations, all spanning two storeys of some as-yet-unspecified building. Because – in the spirit of all great art coups – the location for this extravaganza of existential torture and anguished struggle with the innate unknowability of the world and the self is being kept secret. Presumably it’s somewhere at least two storeys high, which narrows it down fractionally. Tickets are on sale now here.

More great things to book for this summer.

Explore the Barbican’s huge 2021 programme.

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