Monet's marvels: Go inside the paintings


Immersive art experiences continue to shake up traditional perceptions of “art.” Now Claude Monet, the beloved transformational Impressionist, gets the Van Gogh treatment (which has enticed visitors in various forms since 2021).

“Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience” gives guests a glimpse into the emotions and perspectives of the leading figure of Impressionism. Created by the same team that brought “Beyond Van Gogh” to Long Island, it’s full of infinite potential for wonder, and sheds new light on what the world thought it knew about Claude Monet.

The experience showcases more than 400 of Monet’s iconic classics, including “Water Lilies,” “Impression, Sunrise” and “Poppies at Argenteuil.”

“Beyond Monet,” which opened Oct. 7, has settled into the same space at Samanea New York — the retail/entertainment complex that was formerly the site of the Mall at the Source in Westbury — that just recently housed the Van Gogh exhibit. This latest showcase was again created by French-Canadian visual designer Mathieu St-Arnaud, executive creative director and founder of Montreal’s Normal Studio, with his team of multimedia specialists and artists, produced by Pacquin Entertainment Group. Their pairing of digital technology with the artworks enhances light and hues, allowing visitors to completely immerse themselves in the images, accompanied by a lively soundtrack.

“Through cutting edge technology, Beyond Monet is redefining what art means to people,” says Justin Paquin, Paquin’s exhibitions and theatrical president. “It has elevated artwork to the next level, allowing us to form new relationships with notable masterpieces that were just not possible in previous years.”

In the process our relationship to these artists — in this case, Monet — is forever changed. The all-encompassing experience combines projection, original music and sound effects in a re-imagining of Monet’s treasured creations, including the artist’s own thoughts and words into the narrative and musical score.

“When you stand inside ‘Beyond Monet,’ you truly feel like you are part of Monet’s passionate quest for the effervescent beauty of the world,” says art historian Fanny Curtat, who consulted on the project.“Experiences like these create fresh and original perspectives to interact with art in dynamic and fascinating ways.”

It’s a look at Monet’s art freed from its frames that puts the observer front and center, incorporating both still and moving images. Some 400 masterpieces come alive, appear, and disappear, flow across multiple surfaces, the minutia of details enveloping visitors’ heightened senses. The show is projected on every surface around you, making you feel as though you have stepped directly into a painting.

Monet’s art appears and disappears, heightening guests’ senses and allowing them to become one with his expressive brush strokes and blurred shapes and colors that capture the natural light and forms of the impressionist style of painting.

“You’re immediately immersed in a fantastical ephemeral landscape,” Curtat says.

We may think we know Monet, but according to Curtat, that’s not necessarily so.

“This is an opportunity to go beyond the myth and the easy beauty of his works,”  she adds. “We tend to forget how radical and challenging his painting was at the time. He’s so widely known, but there’s something almost deceptive with that level of notoriety — especially when an artist is so famous that they are overlooked. This is a unique opportunity for people to not only see more facets of his work, but learn more about just how radical his work was for the period.

“Today, we may take for granted these ‘easy’ contemplations, but they were scandalous when they were first unveiled. He went on to open the door to so much — not just in terms of the progression of art history, but also in terms of subjective vision and freedom of expression.”

Different elements — scenes — take visitors on Monet’s journey and the themes that comprised his life’s work. After entering the Garden Gallery, the Prism transports everyone into the exhibit’s biggest feature area. Taking inspiration from Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris — the designated home of Monet’s masterpieces — guests can freely roam the Infinity Room to absorb the artist’s bright and colorful paintings.

Monet’s stunning imagery encompasses every surface of the room. It is a haven for awakening the senses as the ebb and flow of the artwork is accompanied by the rhythm of Jean-Sébastien Coté’s original symphonic score.

“I’m so excited for people to understand that what we take for granted (now), was incredibly new at the time,” Curtat says.

It’s the 19th century meeting up with the 21st century in another compelling artistic journey.