By Bryna Shuman, NYU Florence student
There is no shortage of art in Florence. The city is famous for its many museums and galleries, housing some of the greatest collections of Renaissance art in the world. Yet steps away from the Uffizi, hidden in the old, deconsecrated church of Santo Stefano, is a different type of collection from the standard Renaissance classics: an exhibit honoring the post-impressionist work of Vincent Van Gogh, arguably one of the greatest artists in history.
Even more unusual is the medium in which this exhibit is presented. Van Gogh Alive is a multisensory experience that incorporates both colorful light and sound, allowing for immersion into some of Van Gogh’s most famous works. Larger-than-life projections of his paintings and sketches glow on the walls and floor of the darkened church while classical music plays in the background. Walking through the halls of the exhibit is like taking a walk with Van Gogh himself through the Wheatfield with Crows, past the Cafe Terrace at Night, and underneath the Starry Night.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Van Gogh Alive is not seeing the beauty of Van Gogh’s work on such a large scale, but rather the glimpses it provides into the life and thoughts of such a complex man. The exhibit features videos, photographs and verses of letters that Van Gogh wrote throughout his life, most notably to his brother, Theo. These verses leave the viewer with a better understanding of the artist’s genius yet troubled mind, especially as he began to succumb to his mental illness in his later years at Saint Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise. Taken as a whole, the unique and avant garde nature of Van Gogh Alive leaves visitors with the thrilling and moving knowledge of what it is like to be inside the mind of Vincent Van Gogh.
Van Gogh Alive will run until April 12, 2015. Santo Stefano al Ponte, entrance on Via Por Santa Maria. Open 10 to 19:30 Monday through Thursday, 10 to 23 Friday through Saturday, and 10 to 21 on Sunday. Tickets are 12 euro, or 10 euro for students and over 65.