Words by Carla Passino
Their wine is already a work of art, but now SuperTuscan producer Tenuta dell’Ornellaia has packaged it in bottles to match. The company has commissioned artists Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh to create paintings, collages, labels and a special site-specific installation to interpret its Ornellaia 2007 vintage.
The 2007 Ornellaia is a paradigm of vinous balance and Amer and Farkhondeh celebrate this elusive quality in their pieces, aptly named Harmony. But the artists chose to give the concept a fairy tale twist, incorporating the moniker ‘Happily Ever After’ in all their work.
At the heart of the art series is a garden installation that Amer created for the Ornellaia estate. Fragrant letters entwined with jasmine flowers and arranged in a circular shape spell out the words Happily Ever After.
The sentence reappears - either in its entirety or in fragments - in all the labels the artists produced for 127 large-size bottles of Ornellaia 2007. Most labels are drypoint etched, but a few are mixed media pieces.
The most riveting one is perhaps the painted canvas label that graces a 9-litre Salmanazar bottle. A hand-stitched Happily Ever After shows through layers of acrylic paint in a medallion that’s inset in a square label.
Paint on canvas enriched with embroidery, collage elements and drawings features on the labels for the 18 Imperial (six-litre) bottles. The 108 Double Magnums (3-litre) are decorated with etched labels in six colours - Copper, Emerald, Slate, Solferino, Violet, and Wine.
All the bottles are numbered and signed by the artists.
“Working with Ornellaia was a natural fit for us,” said Amer. “Just as artists take raw elements and make them into something beautiful, Ornellaia uses the same process to create each new vintage. The similarity of these two worlds inspired us to create a series of labels that not only portray the harmony in the 2007 vintage, but the harmony between two artists working together."
The Harmony project is part of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s Vendemmia d’Artista programme, whose intent is to replicate the artistic patronage of the Renaissance days in a modern key. This means not only commissioning new artwork, but also raising funds for museums around the world. This year, twenty-three of the Harmony collectible bottles will be auctioned off at a gala dinner in New York on April 28, and the proceeds will go to the Whitney Museum of American Art to help finance their conservation work.
“After the success of the 2009 launch of the Vendemmia d’Artista project, Ornellaia now embarks on its second season,” says Giovanni Geddes, CEO of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, “In 2008, which marked the 20th anniversary of Ornellaia with vintage 2005, we started raising donations for restoration efforts directed at our international artistic patrimony. In just two years, more than €200,000 have been raised. This is just a drop in the ocean which we hope to build upon with the auction of these beautiful, unique large size bottles in April.”