A Chance to Experience Beloved Art in a New Way

by John Downey '23 on March 26, 2022
A&E Co-Editor


A Chance to Experience Beloved Art in a New Way

The Immersive van Gogh Exhibit Delights

Claudia Fennell ’24

Acclaimed artist Vincent van Gogh only started painting at the age of 27, but he created over 900 paintings before his untimely death at the age of 37. However, van Gogh was only able to sell one of his art pieces before he died. It wasn’t until about a hundred years after he passed that his artwork started to become recognized as excellent. He is now considered one of the finest painters in history, with his specialty being impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. 

Today, art lovers across the world have worked together to create new and unique ways for viewers to observe van Gogh’s fabulous paintings. One of these art lovers is Massimiliano Siccardi, who has led a team of van Gogh fanatics in creating the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit.

Siccardi began his career as a dancer, and from there, he then decided to explore the world of visual arts. Throughout his career, he has been a visual choreographer for various festivals and galas across the globe, experiences which led him to create the Immersive van Gogh Exhibit.

  This exhibit, housed in museum sites ranging from 300,000 cubic feet to 500,000 cubic feet, completely surrounds the viewer with van Gogh’s paintings. Indeed, in each, the Dutch painter’s works are projected along walls and floors, fully allowing the viewer to be one with the paintings. The exhibit contains tens of thousands of frames of video and about 90 million pixels of artwork. What makes this exhibit truly unique, however, is that its paintings move in ways that highlight particular elements of each, spotlighting the important details of the works so that viewers can see them more easily. Notably, the exhibit includes some of van Gogh’s more famous paintings, such as The Starry Night (1889), Sunflowers (1888), and The Bedroom (1889).

Online, reviewers are raving about the exhibit, emphasizing how unique the experience is. One attendee exclaimed, “Absolutely amazing, we all enjoyed it. The pictures don’t do justice…glad we went in person.” 

This immersive experience is available in select cities in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. There are over fifteen locations in the United States, and other notable locations include Toronto, Berlin, and Beijing. Some exhibits have unfortunately sold out, but others still have tickets available for purchase with prices ranging from $40 to $60. Interestingly, in specific cities, yoga classes are offered at the site of the exhibit, creating a unique way to practice mindfulness surrounded by artwork.

  At every exhibit location, COVID-19 policies are in place to ensure viewers’ safety. Circles painted on the floors help to manage social distancing between viewing parties, masks are required for entry, and the exhibit is sanitized regularly. 

In allowing viewers to literally step into van Gogh’s work, this innovative art exhibit is the perfect place for van Gogh fans to see the artist’s work through new eyes and gain a newfound appreciation for it.

Van Gogh Watercolor to be Sold at Auction

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021


Van Gogh Watercolor to be Sold at Auction

A Look at Wheatstacks‘ Complicated History

Claudia Fennell ’24

In 1888, famous artist Vincent van Gogh traveled to the French countryside while he was in poor health. While there, he became infatuated with the farming lands around him, which inspired him to create several watercolor paintings depicting “Meules de Blé,” or “Wheatstacks.” Some of these paintings simply show the harvested wheat itself, while others, including one particular watercolor titled Wheatstacks, include women working in the fields as well. 

During this time in his art career, Van Gogh was influenced heavily by Japanese art and Wheatstacks, with graphic-like brushstrokes, is an example of how Japanese artwork inspired him. Japanese art influenced so many Western European artists that the French eventually coined the term “Japonisme” to refer to the influence Japanese art had over European artists in the late 19th century. 

Wheatstacks has changed hands several times since Van Gogh created it in 1888. The painter first gave the piece to his brother, Theo, who sold it to a Jewish man named Max Meirowsky in 1913. Meirowsky held onto the piece for some time, before the chaos of World War Ⅱ forced him to flee and he gave the piece to an art dealership. Soon thereafter, it was bought by Frenchman Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild, who also fled his home when the war broke out. When the Nazis invaded France, they looted de Rothschild’s property. The Nazis stole her art collection, including Van Gogh’s watercolor, and in 1941 they placed it in a museum titled Jeu de Paume, where they stored many of their stolen goods. 

After the war, de Rothschild tried to reclaim Wheatstacks but struggled to do so. The piece eventually ended up at a gallery in New York City where it was purchased by Texas oil businessman, Edward Lochride Cox. Following Cox’s death, disputes broke out between Meirowsky, de Rothschild, and Cox’s family over who had rightful ownership over the piece. Eventually, the parties came to a settlement agreement: the profits from the piece would be divided among the three of them. 

Wheatstacks has not been seen by the public since 1905 when it was on display with some of Van Gogh’s other works at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Now, the piece is being sold by the auction house Christie’s, who estimate that it could be auctioned for anywhere between $20 and 30 million. Wheatstacks is expected to break a record for the highest selling price for a paper Van Gogh work. The previous record was from his piece “La Moisson en Provence,” which sold for $14.7 million in 1997. 

Nazi-looted artwork has been at the center of news headlines for the past few years, as other famous, stolen pieces from artists such as Camille Pissarro and Gari Melchers have been sold at auction for millions. It is important that these valuable works continue to be tracked down and returned to their rightful owners as well as that these rightful owners receive any proceeds from them.

Nothing Good Starts on a Getaway Scooter

by The Cowl Editor on October 7, 2021


Nothing Good Starts on a Getaway Scooter

59 Year-Old Man Convicted in Theft of Van Gogh and Hals Paintings

Claudia Fennell ’24

On Friday, Sept. 24, a three-judge panel met in the Netherlands and came to a verdict that sentenced an unnamed 59-year-old man—identified as Nils M.—to eight years in prison and ordered him to pay a hefty fine. Indeed, the court condemned his wrongdoing as a serious crime, determined to make him pay the price for his actions by sentencing him to the maximum possible imprisonment for his actions. 

What was this man convicted of?

The Dutch car repairman is charged with stealing expensive and historic paintings. He left behind two pieces of DNA evidence, one at each of the two crime scenes. These traces have led prosecutors to apprehend him for the thefts of a Vincent van Gogh painting and a Frans Hals painting. 

In March 2020, the van Gogh painting titled “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” painted in 1884, was stolen from the Singer museum in the Netherlands. This painting is valued at $2.9 million. The thief used a sledgehammer to break the two doors, giving him access to the museum. He also used explosives to open another door. However, he failed to think of everything—part of a broken frame left behind at the museum contained his DNA.

In August 2020, the painting titled “Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer,” painted in 1626 by Frans Hans, was stolen from the Netherlands’ Museum Het Hofje van Aerden. This painting is valued at $17.6 million. In this robbery, the thief broke the museum’s back doors and left DNA evidence on a tension strap that he used to lower either the painting or himself. As a car repairman, he had access to these straps, and they were found present in the garage that he worked in. He claims, however, that he did not know how they ended up at the crime scene. 

In addition to the matching DNA at both scenes, the robberies that occurred in May and August were similar in that the museums were broken into at about the same time, with force used to enter, and the criminal drove away with a partner on a scooter to escape after stealing both pieces of artwork. 

The DNA and behavioral evidence at the crime scenes led detectives to the Dutch car repairman, whose DNA was already in their database because of a previous arrest for the theft of 17th-century antiques for which he spent five years in prison. 

The Netherlands courts, as well as the public, expressed that these paintings have cultural and historical significance for them. When speaking to the Independent, the court said, “That is why, and given the criminal record of the suspect who is, according to the court, an incorrigible and calculating criminal, the court considers the maximum sentence to be appropriate.” The Netherlands courts want to set an example by giving this man the maximum sentence possible for his thievery to discourage others from attempting the same crimes.

While the police have not been able to recover the stolen paintings, they did find over 10,000 ecstasy pills at the criminal’s house, which could validate their theory that his art thefts were tied to the drug world. When speaking to the New York Times, Arthur Brand, a private art detective, said that he “believes there is demand in the Dutch underworld for artworks. People accused of drug crimes could think that a stolen artwork could potentially be surrendered to the authorities in exchange for a lesser sentence.” Apparently, the demand for stolen art has risen, and the Dutch car repairman decided to supply it. Although he still claims his innocence in the crimes, he will now spend eight years in prison for that decision.