Picasso exhibit takes over Pullman Yards from Van Gogh

The two exhibitions are created by two different companies.
People look over the Imagine Picasso Atlanta: Immersive Art Exhibition on opening day at Pullman Yards in Atlanta Thursday, 17 2022.   STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

People look over the Imagine Picasso Atlanta: Immersive Art Exhibition on opening day at Pullman Yards in Atlanta Thursday, 17 2022. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Immersive art exhibits are now all the rage.

Illuminarium Atlanta on the Beltline is about to launch an immersive experience highlighting modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe called “One Hundred Flowers” on April 28 with tickets on sale now. Atlanta company Exhibition Hub just concluded a massively popular eight-month run at Pullman Yards in Atlanta with its Vincent Van Gogh experience and has plans to do one focused on French impressionist painter Claude Monet.

Now a rival company S2BN Entertainment has taken over the Pullman Yards space for a comparable but fundamentally different experience celebrating the most notable works of Pablo Picasso, one of the most prominent visual artists of the 20th century.

“Imagine Picasso,” which opened March 17, will run through June 19. It’s open six days a week, closed only on Tuesdays.

This exhibit debuted in Lyon, France, in 2019 and has since been shown in Quebec City; Vancouver, British Columbia; and San Francisco. Tickets start at $31.50 for adults and $22 for ages 5 to 12. Children under five years old get in free. Discounts are available for senior citizens, the military, students and large groups.

The 200 selected works cover Picasso’s entire life, hitting upon the different styles he explored over the years including surrealism, expressionism and cubism.

Jacob Cohl, vice president of experiential/exhibitions for S2BN Entertainment, noted that in 1971, Picasso had created his own projection art exhibit featuring his works. “I think he’d be curious about what we’re doing,” he said. “He was very open minded.”

This is also a way for people to see Picasso’s work without having to travel to New York City, Barcelona or Paris.

“It’s kind of a retrospective of all of his work,” said Annabelle Mauger, exhibition director. She worked with her creative partner Julien Baron, French architect Rudy Ricciotti, and curator and art historian Androula Michael. Picasso, who made an estimated 60,000 pieces of art in is life, painted until his death in 1973 at age 91.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso Foundation, Picasso’s estate, selected Mauger, who has 20 years experience, to create “Imagine Picasso.” “I think this exhibition would have pleased my grandfather a lot because he was, above all, a man of freedom.” said Olivier Widmaier Picasso, grandson of Pablo Picasso, in promotional materials provided by the exhibit.

“We have to respect the color of the paintings, the movement of the paintings,” Mauger said.

Annabelle Mauger, exhibition director, and Jacob Cohl, vice president of experiential/exhibitions for S2BN Entertainment, organized the Picasso immersive exhibit at Pullman Yards. This shot was taken at the exhibit on March 16, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

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Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

The first room showcases small images of 200 Picasso paintings that are featured in immersive fashion in the third room. The second room is a multimedia look at Picasso’s life. Panels describing his life line the sides of the room while down the center are multiple transparency screens featuring black-and-white still images and video of Picasso himself with selected quotes.

“He was considered a genius and it was important to show that,” Mauger said. “He went through many evolutions.”

The third room, which covers about 10,000 square feet, features the big Picasso immersive show. It runs in a loop over 33 minutes with no narrative, just a musical overlay of French composers and original songs. The build out includes multiple shapes so Picasso paintings are displayed at different angles on 90 separate panels. Images are seen on the walls, the model shapes and the floor. This encourages attendees to stroll around the space rather than stand in one place.

“You’re almost in the brush strokes,” Mauger said.

For her, the experience provides an overall sense of who Picasso was an artist.

“Whatever your age, whatever your culture, whatever your language,” Mauger said, “you can understand everything because what you feel is the most important.” In a sense, it’s more of an emotional, visual feast and less about specific details about Picasso’s life or explanations behind particular pieces of art.

In comparison, the Van Gogh experience included a much larger and more detailed but also more conventional museum exhibit of his colorful and tumultuous life as well as a virtual reality experience placing attendees inside the “Starry Night” painting. The Van Gogh immersive experience also took some of static elements from his paintings and animated them.

Mauger said they chose not to do that with the Picasso experience. “You won’t see birds flying or people moving because we think a painting is a stopped movement,” she said. “If you put animation on it, you are changing the painting. We are not authorized to do it.”

Cohl, who is based in Miami, said he is well aware that the outgoing Van Gogh experience casts a long shadow on this new one. “Hopefully people will take a chance on another art experience like this,” he said.

John Zaller, executive producer of Exhibition Hub which oversaw the Van Gogh Experience, said his company sold a whopping 425,000 tickets over eight months for the experience’s North American debut. “We typically run these for three to six months,” he said. “But the response was so overwhelmingly positive, it made sense to stay longer.”

He is seeking a new location for a new Van Gogh immersive in Atlanta later this year and hopes to eventually land a permanent space like the Illuminarium. Exhibition Hub has also held immersive exhibits in other cities for Monet and Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

Rasa Raceviciute looks over the Imagine Picasso Atlanta: Immersive Art Exhibition on opening day at Pullman Yards in Atlanta Thursday, 17 2022.   STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Todd Cronan, an associate art history professor at Emory University, said Van Gogh’s work is far more popular today than Picasso’s.

“Van Gogh’s life is more related to his art,” said Cronan, who recently wrote an essay for the catalogs of Van Gogh art exhibits in Santa Barbara, California and Columbus, Ohio. “His paintings were reflective of his life. It’s not wrong to think he put himself on the line in making art. I don’t think that’s what Picasso was about. He was about how we collectively distort the world and less about his own feelings.”

Cronan, who has seen Exhibition Hub’s Van Gogh Experience in Seattle said he still prefers exhibits featuring the actual paintings.

“What we love about Picasso and Van Gogh is the handmade quality,” he said. “The brush strokes and particularly with Van Gogh, how he laid on the paint applications. The screen version doesn’t do it justice. Instead, it’s that techno explosion. It’s all about the new immersive technology.”

People look over the Imagine Picasso Atlanta: Immersive Art Exhibition on opening day at Pullman Yards in Atlanta Thursday, 17 2022.   STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

icon to expand image

Credit: Steve Schaefer


IF YOU GO

“Imagine Picasso”

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays- Sundays. Through June 19. $31.50; $22 ages 5-12. Pullman Yards, 225 Rogers Street N.E., Atlanta. imaginepicassoexhibit.com.

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