Tripping the Light Fantastic at the Atelier des Lumières Museum
The Klimt exhibition at the newly opened Atelier des Lumières in the 11th neighbourhood of Paris has been the undisputed runaway success of the season. Shortly to close after having been extended through to January, the doors of this unique space will reopen on February 22nd, with a lengthy run time through to Christmas 2019 for the forthcoming and much anticipated Van Gogh show. Read on to whet your appetites for what is bound to be a repeat performance of the spellbinding artistry of this exciting new medium.
It’s not often you get to experience something completely unexpected and unique. Paris is at the cultural forefront of the world, with so many fantastic exhibitions and artistic events to enjoy all year round. The avant-garde Atelier des Lumières (or ‘Light Workshop’) museum could therefore not be more aptly named. And, en plus, you don’t need a word of French to enjoy this electrifying and innovative piece of local culture. Even better, the entire show lasts for around one hour and you can then choose whether to linger and watch it again, or leave and continue exploring other parts of the city.
Imagine a drab-looking former iron foundry around the corner from the Père Lachaise cemetery. Dating from 1835 and steeped in the Plichon family history, the outside of the museum gives no indication whatsoever of the wonders within. Appearances can be deceptive. Once inside, you’ll discover the ex-factory transformed into a fabulous, family-friendly and fully immersive exhibition of sound and light, guaranteed to quite literally take your breath away.
The brainchild of the Fondation Culturespaces and a group of creative Italians (European entente cordiale at its most impressive!), this monumental exhibit is a natural extension of its predecessor at Les-Baux-de-Provence in the south of France, yet this new museum in Paris is a first in the capital. Covering 3,300 square metres from top to toe with walls that are ten meters tall, this exceptional site is not only the sole digital immersive art centre in the city, but it’s also the world’s largest permanent multimedia installation.
The show itself is breath-taking. Against the incongruous backdrop of metalwork, a giant chimney and even a small pool and room of mirrors, the expansive area is gradually metamorphosed into a giant moving canvas, and filled from floor to ceiling with a myriad of Neo-Renaissance and Baroque images. Set against a magnificent soundtrack of Beethoven, Wagner and Chopin, the constantly changing displays completely fill every inch of space and cannot fail to stir the soul. As spectators, you are free to wander and be literally immersed in the state-of-the-art system, which projects a series of instantly recognisable paintings, collages and mosaics by artists such as Klimt, Chagall and Schiele.
Swirling, gold-tinged trees by Gustav Klimt are cast against the walls; scenes from 19th Century Vienna magically appear, only to be replaced by surreal characters from Bosch’s masterpieces and the angels and demons that populate Egon Schiele’s universe. Carpets of flowers trip the light fantastic, and the younger spectators dance and play hopscotch as the images continually move, while the older viewers stand or sit and let the vignettes literally wash over them. This is art at its most inclusive and interactive – where else could you reach out to touch a museum piece on the wall?
Even the most curmudgeonly of purists will be blown away by the sheer magnitude and spectacle of the show. Perfect for families and children of all ages, thrilling for lovers of Secession works and a dazzling sight for anyone who enjoys accessible artistry – this ground-breaking exhibition ticks all the boxes. Do not miss this interactive spectacle, and be sure to take all your friends and family!
TIPS FOR VISITING THIS NEW MUSEUM IN PARIS
Ideally, aim to plan to enter the show just before the start of one of the continuous cycle of hourly projections to get the very most out of the exhibition. Staff at the museum will advise the timings on the day. And beware! advance tickets for Van Gogh are selling like hot cakes, so be sure to book in advance. Contact [email protected] for assistance. Please note that apart from the inconvenience and time spent standing in line, at busy times it is sometimes not even possible to buy your tickets on the day, due to the show’s well-deserved popularity.
Atelier des Lumières, 38 rue Saint-Maur, 11th arrondissement. Open every day from 10:00 – 18:00, and 22:00 on Fridays and Saturdays.
Please note that some parts of this article were first published in May 2018 for Paris Perfect, with thanks. Credit featured photo at start of article : Culturespaces / E. Spiller. Photos by Nicola Collarile unless otherwise indicated.