Immersion. The Origins: 1949-1969

The Origins: 1949-1969


With fourteen immersive environments by a range of artists, from Lucio Fontana to Judy Chicago, Immersion. The Origins: 1949-1969 is the first exhibition to look at an emerging practice that was to become one of the major forms of expression starting in the 1990s.

Event-artworks seem to be increasingly common, enabling viewers to immerse themselves in pictures by famous artists (Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Frida Kahlo, etc.), paintings that never were created to be projected thanks to the electronic wizardry of augmented reality. In such a conjuncture, the show Immersion. The Origins: 1949-1969 is especially welcome. It invites the public to discover works that were specifically designed in fact to be immersive, a “novelty” that goes back over 70 years.

In a closed environment, these artworks allow us to enjoy a new experience that addresses the body and the senses. Fashioning a clean break with daily life, the pieces offer the chance to connect with an alternative reality. From that moment on, the audience and the work of art are part of the same ecosystem.

The 1950s and 1960s correspond to a moment in time when imagery and the imagination with respect to space were expanding. Those decades also witnessed a questioning of how the artwork was traditionally perceived and the development of means and approaches that would become experimental. Interest in immersive art, moreover, appears around the same time as the desire to democratize the space of the museum, favoring greater inclusion of the people venturing into its galleries.

During the confinement caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sensory deprivation reduced our activities to purely visual informative ones. Today placing the body once again in art’s relationship to the museum has become especially important. The show puts experience at the heart of our encounter with art; it offers a reconnection between the body and space, and invites us to a multisensory perception and understanding.

Exhibition curators:
Choghakate Kazarian, art historian, freelance exhibition curator
Camille Lévêque-Claudet, curator, MCBA

Exhibition guide


Immersion. Les origines : 1949 – 1969

Immersion. The Origins: 1949-1969 is the first book to trace the rise of immersive art, an approach that addresses all the visitor’s senses in a 360° experience. Featuring pioneering works by twenty-three artists, from Lucio Fontana to Judy Chicago, the present catalogue explores the beginnings of a major form of artistic expression that heralded augmented reality. Essays by Giuliana Bruno, Choghakate Kazarian, and Camille Lévêque-Claudet examine immersion, its history, strategies for involving the public in the work of art itself, and questioning of the exhibition space. The book includes both period documents and an exceptional selection of photo illustrations.

Choghakate Kazarian and Camille Lévêque-Claudet (ed.), Immersion. Les origines/The Origins: 1949-1969, Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Paris, Hazan, 2023, 152 p., 106 ill. (Fr./Eng.)

CHF 60.90



With the support of

Vaudoise Insurance