REVIEW – “Beyond Van Gogh:” Below Expectations

“Beyond Van Gogh” showcases the painter’s famous works while leaving viewers disappointed.

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REVIEW BY - David Gottner

The swirls of paint, the strokes of a brush, and the splashes of color against a canvas–painters can create life out of anything. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the immersive experience that is “Beyond Van Gogh.”

“Beyond Van Gogh” is a limited time exhibit at the Mid-American Center in Council Bluffs, open until September 9th. The display showcases a biography of Vincent Van Gogh, a French painter of the 19th century, and his artistic experimentation over the walls of a stadium.

To do this, the exhibit utilizes projectors to broadcast the paintings in a 37-minute long video that encapsulates the room with Van Gogh’s works. The switch from painting to painting was timed well, allowing for one to admire the paintings or even take some photos, but sometimes, the projectors would only showcase lines across the floor instead of the actual painting, taking away from the experience and putting the viewer back into the “real world.”

Of course, this was a rare occurrence, but the fact that it would occasionally happen was off-putting, especially in regards to the high-end admission fee of $50 per person. The price tag should have matched the exhibit, and for some of the projectors to fail to display the paintings makes it not worth the entrance fee.

The $50 admission also begs the question on what exactly makes the “Beyond Van Gogh” experience worth such a prestigious fee. For the exhibit to be a projector-based representation of Van Gogh’s works, the price seems to be completely unreasonable, especially in regards to the true nature of art.

Art itself is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, not just those who can afford it. The pricey admission implies that only affluent people are able to partake in experiencing art, which is incredibly egregious and harmful to perpetuate. The admission itself comes off as oxymoronic and incredibly superficial, especially when Van Gogh often included themes of social classes within his art, recounting his own circumstances as a poor man trying to paint as a profession. Another museum in the local area, the Joslyn Art Museum, has a completely free admission, which seems more reasonable for a museum than the $50 of a projector-shown broadcast.

“Beyond Van Gogh” may have been far below expectations, but this is not to say that the art showcase was all negative. The biography portion was incredibly informative, contextualizing many common themes in Van Gogh’s art, as well as his drift into madness and eventual suicide. It was also wonderful how the exhibit showed his lesser known art pieces before his more famous ones, which was a highly admirable aspect.

Art reveals an inner-personal connection anyone can have with one another, so with exhibits such as “Beyond Van Gogh” appearing much more often, it will be important to support local artists and museums within the local area. Galleries such as “Gallery 1516” and “Passageway Gallery” not only showcase art from the Omaha area, but also the life artists can create from a blank canvas and an open mind.