In October this year Melbourne digital art gallery The Lume’s much-loved Van Gough Alive exhibit will be retired and replaced with another larger-than-life, multi-sensory art experience. Monet & Friends Alive will recreate more than 850 pieces by some of the impressionist movement’s best-known artists, with the complete works of Cézanne, Renoir, Manet and more washing over visitors in a multi-sensory extravaganza.
Some 150 high-definition projectors and more than 65 kilometres of cables will help create an immersive 3000-square-metre cavern, with projections towering over four storeys high. You can stroll, sit or even lie down to take in the 40-minute show, drenched in light and sound. A bespoke perfume inspired by the paintings’ floral themes will also permeate the space, adding an extra dimension to the experience.
In a previous job as a teacher, Lume founder Bruce Peterson told Broadsheet, he quickly realised that in order to educate his students, he needed to engage them – and to do that, he had to entertain them. He’s transferred the same idea to the three Lume experiences he runs around the world. The new exhibition places visitors in the heart of impressionism’s iconic scenes of water lilies, ballerinas and urban life in the Belle Époque. Peterson says his intention is to make these historic works accessible and approachable to everyone.
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Impressionism has its roots in avant-garde circles of late-19th century France. Painting “en plein air”, or outdoors – a highly unorthodox practice at the time – its founding artists left their studios for the streets, riverbanks, fields and parks to capture the natural atmospheric effects of light, texture and movement at play in the landscape. Designed to reflect the world as it is subjectively perceived, the school’s hallmarks include vivid colours, dynamic brushstrokes and a less real, more “impressionistic”, approach.
Peterson believes Monet & Friends Alive will offer visitors something unique. The exhibition activates all the senses through light, sound, smell, and even taste via the in-gallery dining experience, Cafe de Flore. There’ll also be a tactile sketching zone where would-be artists can try their hand at a tutorial.
“Engaging all the senses at once, you’re more likely to get a much more emotional outcome,” he says.
Monet & Friends Alive will open at the Lume on Wednesday October 26, with tickets on sale from Friday August 26. The Van Gogh Alive experience closes its doors on October 9.