The Digital Art Centre in the middle of Paris started in 2018 under the name "Atelier des Lumières" by Culturespaces, the leading private cultural operator. The venue where this Digital Art Centre is located was founded in 1835 by the Plichon brothers. Jacques François Alexandre and Hilaire Pierre established the Chemin-Vert foundry in 1835 as a manufacturer of high-quality iron parts. In 1929, after almost a hundred years of success, the international financial crisis forced the business to stop and the sites and buildings were sold to the Martin family.
After decades, Bruno Monnier, the President of Culturespaces, discovered this location in 2013 and had an idea of creating a Digital Art Centre in Paris after his success of the Carrières de Lumières Art Centre in Les Baux-de-Provence. The Martin family who is the current owners agreed to rent our the great hall and its annexes to Bruno in 2014. Four years later, after massive renovations to more than 3,000 square meters of space, the Atelier des Lumières officially opened its doors to the public for them to experience artistic work with 3 exhibitions which were Gustav Klimt, Hundertwasser, and POETIC_AI.
In 2019, the digital art exhibition began again, this time with the theme of "Van Gogh, Starry Night". Presenting traces of Van Gogh's intense life and struggles of not being recognized when he was alive, and showcasing his most famous artwork.
Inside the exhibition, where the great hall darkens is where the exhibition begins. The digital art is projected on all the surfaces of the hall with a visual and musical presentation. The exhibition emphasizes the masterpieces of Van Gogh who painted more than 2,000 paintings during the last 10 years of his life. The curators have brought Van Gogh's world famous masterpieces such as The Starry Night (1889), The Potato Eaters (1885), Sunflowers (1888), Bedroom at Arles (1889), and many more featured by this magnificent digital art.
Besides the "Van Gogh, Starry Night" exhibition, which is the main program and lasts 32 minutes, the program could not be complete without another 2 short exhibitions which are "Dreamed Japan, Images of the Floating World" (15 minutes) and "Verse" by Thomas Vanz (15 minutes) which are shown right after "Van Gogh, Starry Night".
From the 2,000 paintings by Van Gogh, the curators of the program selected numerous paintings that focused on the evolution of his work over the years. You will see that Van Gogh's powerful brushstrokes and his choice of bold colors have been highlighted. These moving digital artworks will captivate the heart of every visitor and open the door for you to enter into his emotional, chaotic, and poetic inner world.
Of course, each masterpiece contains its meaning behind the wall. The show is divided into 10 small parts tracing the stages of Van Gogh's life in Neunen, Arles, Paris, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and Auvers-sur-Oise. You will be diving literally into his work, completely surrounded by the paintings above your head and under your feet, from his early to mature years, along with the sunny landscapes, nightscapes, his self-portrait, and still live scenes.
"The Potato Eaters" (1885) is featured in "The Early Works" part which is the third part of the show. The painting of the potato eaters is repeated around the great hall in order to be visible to every single visitor. The paintings appear along with music helps highlight the richness of his palette as well as the potency of his drawings and his use of impasto. If you wish to appreciate the painting as a whole, you can walk inside the room located in the center of the atelier, where the painting is presented and accompanied by commentaries about his oeuvre and the museum in which it is exhibited.
The fourth part, "Nature", mainly featured by "Blossoming Almond Tree" (1890), the painting Van Gogh painted at the end of his life. The astonishing digital art brought the almond tree to life by making the almond tree gradually grow with the almond flowers continuously blooming. To indicate the end of his life, after the full bloom, the background changes from blue to black while the almond flowers are blown away by the wind.
The last or the tenth part of the exhibition named "Epilogue" which ends with his own self-portraits in the middle of the blossoming almond trees all over the exhibition space. This symbolizes the rebirth, newfound vital energy, and the continuous and timeless renewal of art.
After the remarkable Van Gogh exhibition, next is the short program "Dreamed Japan, Images of the Floating World" focusing on Japanese art and collective imagination. The projectors project the images of geishas, samurai warriors, and spirits. This show was inspired by the Japanese prints that began to move around Europe in the second half of the 19th century during the time when the trade between the West and Japan started.
The great hall has been transformed into the Japanese room divided by a rice paper screen, and emerging from behind are the faces of charming geishas dressed in colorful and elegant kimonos, which is a traditional Japanese costume.
Hokusai’s iconic great wave submerges the Atelier des Lumières moving around up and down like the whole great hall is in the middle of the sea, accompanied by music by Claude Debussy "La Mer" or "The Sea". The choice of music is as important as the digital art displayed. The team has featured the fast rhythms of Japanese drumming into the show as well, which allow the visitors to dive deeper into Japanese art.
The last show is about contemporary work created specifically for Le Studio in the Atelier des Lumières. "Verse" is a hypnotic and metaphysical journey that highlights the beauty of infinite space around us. Thomas Vanz emphasizes on the visual beauty of the universe and stars and shows it in the form of the impenetrable and mysterious universe exhibit. You will see the peaceful movements that start along with the sound of an orchestra.
On the far left side of the great hall, there is a bar offering salted and sweet snacks and hot and cold drinks. In the bar area, there is a small screen to indicate the current exhibition being shown at the moment. When the exhibition ends, you will find the souvenir shop right outside the exiting door. The souvenir shop is full of Van Gogh's art souvenirs such as mugs, posters, postcards, snowglobes, and even a book about Vincent Van Gogh's art and life.
You can either book your ticket in advance through the Atelier des Lumières official website or buy it at the ticket office upon your arrival. Please note that the ticket office closes at 16:00 Monday to Friday, so if you plan to buy the ticket at the ticket office, we recommend that you arive early. The ticket office is closed on Saturday and Sunday therefore you can only visit the exhibition on weekends by purchasing your ticket online. Also in order to avoid the queue, book your ticket online. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit around 12:00-14:00, so you can absorb the artistic atmosphere as much as you can without being surrounded by loads of other tourists.
By downloading the O'bon Paris discount coupon you will be able to get a 10% discount via a discount code while booking the ticket directly via Atelier des Lumières official website.
Words by Aphinya Kasemsukphaisan
Photographs by Yuna LEE
Address: 38 Rue Saint Maur, 75011 Paris
Transportation: Metro Voltaire or Saint-Ambroise Station (Line 9) or Rue Saint-Maur Station (Line 3) or Père Lachaise Station (Line 2)
Exhibition: 22 February until 31 December 2019 - Van Gogh, Starry Night / Dreamed Japan, Images of Floating World / Verse by Thomas Vanz
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday from 10:00-18:00 / Friday and Saturday 10:00-22:00 / Sunday 10:00-19:00
Admission Fee: Adult 14.50€ / Student 11.50€ / Between 5-25 years old 9.50€ / Free for children under 5 years old / More than 65 years old 13.50€ / Family (2 adults and 2 children between 7-25 years old) 42€