Atelier des Lumières opened less than a year ago, in April 2018, created to become a Digital Art Centre in Paris. Located in St Ambroise, in a building that used to be a factory, we walked through a neighbourhood that felt non-touristic, artistic and cosy, though a bit rough compared to other Parisian areas.
The exhibition promises to be an “immersive experience” on Gustav Klimt, and exactly that it is. “Immersive” is such a trendy word right now in museum-land, and most exhibitions in London splash it over their description just because they have an area with big screens showing a film.
What makes Atelier des Lumières stand out, and provide a truly immersive experience, is that the projections truly surround you, covering every inch of the space (and you!).
Moreover, the projections themselves are not previously created films simply screened, but they are especially made for this exhibition. Created by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi with the musical collaboration of Luca Longobardi, elements are taken from Klimt’s paintings and lead to a new creation specifically to be enjoyed as a projection while the music is perfectly paired.
The projection is continuous following six themes: neoclassic Vienna, the Vienna Secession, gold, nature, Egon Schiele and women.
As beautiful and breath-taking this exhibition is, it lacks the depth of knowledge you would get from a more conventional exhibition. The viewer isn’t given any knowledge about these different themes, except for a small description (in French) in the brochure.
The part on Egon Schiele doesn’t make any sense without any prior knowledge; the relationship between the two artists is just not explained. (The Royal Academy in London opens an exhibition specifically on Klimt and Schiele in November that is not to be missed).
I would also say that due to its immersive nature it is possible to miss some paintings as they move continuously. For instance I didn’t see The Kiss, one of my favourite paintings, because I was staring at a different wall.
It is evident that aesthetics were prioritised over knowledge, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is very refreshing to be able to simply enjoy paintings without needing the why and the where and the how.
It is the most accessible exhibition I’ve seen, and it’s perfect for children that, let’s be honest, are bored in traditional exhibitions, but here they can be entertained for 45 minutes non-stop. It is no wonder that it’s #50 of things to do in Paris right now, and Atelier des Lumières is definitely a place to keep an eye on.
Tip: Make sure to book in advance, lines can get long!