Service of Why the Faux When the Real is Right Here?

January 30th, 2023

Categories: Artist, Museums

Claude Monet: Image by David Mark from Pixabay

I’ve covered this topic from food substitutes to forged paintings over the 15 years I’ve written the blog. A different slant hit me after two conversations on the same day last week. From one friend, who lives in the south: “Cannot help but envy you being near such great artwork.” Another friend grumbled “What’s the point?” after having seen a commercial for Monet’s Garden: The Immersive Experience downtown on Wall Street.

The website describes the experience as follows: “Art enthusiasts will have their moment to surround themselves with moving Monet visuals and curated music to create their own impressionist masterpieces. This is not a class, but an immersive, exploratory painting experience where you will get to reconnect, express and be present.” It was to close the end of January but has been extended for another month.

Anyone who has spent as little as an hour at a major museum anywhere around the world will have noticed students with sketchbook in hand studying and sketching the pictures or sculptures by masters that are in front of them.

So why go downtown to see digital images when you can see original Claude Monet’s in museums such as MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum? The downtown immersive experience charges $25 for kids, $28 for students and up to $45 per adult. If you live in NYC you need only give a donation of any amount—or pay nothing–to visit the Met. MoMA charges $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for students and children under 16 are free. Plus you can sign up for free entrance days.

But it’s not a question of money–which I mention for those who thought the Wall Street view of Monet’s work might be inexpensive therefore better than nothing and a way to get people interested in art. It sounds like a gimmick. What could be better than the real thing? A visit to a museum to stand in front of art that a gifted person has created that perhaps you’ve seen in books that is now just a few inches from your face is thrilling.

There had been a similar immersive show focusing on Van Gogh which must have been financially successful or there wouldn’t have been a reprise. Do you think that a painting that moves–or is huge–in a flashy presentation can be better–more insightful–than the original?

Van Gogh’s “Silent Night” at MoMA

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13 Responses to “Service of Why the Faux When the Real is Right Here?”

  1. Anonymous Said:

    Sadly I think that todays younger generation loves anything that’s been produced by technology. I think if you showed my daughters a 3-D image of me and it talked they’d be happy. Personal contact doesn’t seem to matter anymore. You’re correct as far as I’m concerned that being a foot away from an original created by an artist is exciting and should be appreciated. Too much technology….sad!

  2. BC Said:

    Crazy way to portray the masters!

  3. Anonymous Said:


    You have something there. If it isn’t visually exciting –if it doesn’t move and have music besides–it’s boring. And I suspect it’s not just young people addicted to both.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It happened to fruit and vegetables and homes so why not art? Bigger must be better, at least some think that.

  5. D Manzaluni Said:

    I can’t object to what they are offering to their intended audience. A completely different kind of immersive experience, to contrast with the concept of standing in front of a painting in an art gallery.

    I don’t think either lessens the experience of the other in any way.

    Anyone who disagrees is letting the medium get in the way of the message.

    That sort of person would decry an art tv program about a style of painting! Or a university art course on the basis that the students aren’t studying the originals!

  6. Deborah Wright Said:

    Two very different takes on this question. I don’t like the idea of immersive art that moves and has music. The quote stating …”to create their own impressionist masterpieces ” strikes me as insulting to the artist’s original work. In other words, if people want to see art, go to the museums and see it. If you want to model yourself after Van Gogh, take a class or learn about his work–dare I say it–from books? It strikes me as dumbing down paintings. Do you have to be coddled into admiring great works of art so that you appreciate it? Immersive sounds gimmicky and sophomoric. This idea that people have to be entertained with new approaches to artists or historical figures in order to not be bored is a terrible one.

  7. ASK Said:

    The first time I saw Van Gogh’s real “The Starry Night,” in Paris, the painting seemed alive and vibrated with energy and color. I would not pay $45 to see the “expanded” version when the Van Gogh show arrived in New York. I believe we are selling our own senses short with these so-called enhanced experiences.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    D Manzaluni,

    I was lucky in that I went to college in Boston so for our art courses we were sent to explore the Museum of Fine Arts. Pretty sure my paper was on Modigliani. There are art galleries and museums all over the country so that most students could investigate original work and wouldn’t need to be enthralled by glitz. Take Poughkeepsie, NY. Entrance to the museum at Vassar college is free. Same with New Haven. The Yale art museum is free. I visited these museums often and never got tired of their collections. Williamstown, Mass. has two museums–the Clark Art Institute and the one at Williams College. You get my point. No need for bells and whistles.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree. You wrote how I felt better than I could. As I read your words I was humming “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” Not everyone is enthralled by art. What’s the point of as you put it “dumbing it down?” for them? Those people have a passion for other things not shared by others. This is lucky or we couldn’t squeeze into the great museums of the world nor they the sports stadiums or whatever live event makes them smile!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Another voice that echoes my thoughts. I love that you remember your first impression of a picture.

    Some of my happiest dates with my husband were at museums. However, if we were on vacation, he could stay at a museum for hours. Not me. I admit to wanting to walk the streets, get a feeling for neighborhoods and visit shops.

  11. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Can’t speak for others but the immersive exhibits, and I use that word loosely, do not interest me.

  12. lucrezia Said:

    Very few are privileged enough to be able to bounce around the planet to see original Monets, Bruegel’s & etc., so digital copies make good substitutes, when local museums charge frightening costs per visit. This is not to blame museums for exacting such charges. Maintenance costs must be real eyepoppers!

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Actually entrance to the faux Wall Street experience is more expensive than to the NYC museums. I may not have made clear my point which was that there are original paintings in the city which is where the experience is located. And as I wrote D Manzaluni, there are galleries that sell art even in places far from a museum and as I mentioned in a previous comment there are wonderful museums in cities such as Poughkeepsie where you might not expect one.

    Another great place to see orignial work is at art auction previews.

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