Art and Champagne
Perfect companionship that sparks artistic creativity
Art and Champagne is often seen together, especially at art fairs helping the celebration of gathering of artworks and those who admire them. Champagne houses have long been collaborating with artists and designers to create innovative ways to express the ever so shimmering, yet classy drink; Pommery and Taittinger are known for their enthusiasm for art and the collections, as well as long standing collaboration with artists. Perhaps what connects art and Champagne is that devotees of the two are curious in mind and have the desire to experience the best quality. The mastery of Champagne is similar to making art, everyone has the access to the tools, but what is needed is creativity that finds the right spot.
1. David Shrigley in collaboration with Maison Ruinart’s Carte Blanche
2. Yayoi Kusama re-interpreting La Grande Dame 2012 for Maison Veuve Clicquot
3. Andy Warhol tribute for Dom Pérignon 2002
4. Vik Muniz re-visits the iconic Belle Epoque Cuvée for Maison Perrier-Jouët
David Shrigley in collaboration with Maison Ruinart’s Carte Blanche
Founded by Nicolas Ruinart in the city of Reims in the Champagne region, Maison* Ruinart was established in 1729; inspired by his uncle Dom Thierry Ruinart, a visionary monk who was quick to catch on to “wine with bubbles” that was already popular among young aristocrats. The Champagne house was the world’s first ever of its kind, and it has ever since exchanged dialogues with art and culture.
*Maisons are the big Champagne houses (Bollinger, Moët, Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot, etc.), and they source their grapes from all over Champagne.
In July 2020, David Shrigley was welcomed at Maison Ruinart to share his vision of the Champagne house as part of their Carte Blanche program with the idea of “Unconventional Bubbles” in mind throughout the process. Shrigley explored between the vines and the cellars, learning the process behind the making of Champagne. Narrowed down from the 90 works the artist created, the 42 Unconventional Bubbles pieces were selected. The collaboration was on view at Frieze London, 2021 but as a gesture towards the understanding the difficulty in traveling for art fairs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Unconventional Gallery was also produced; an interactive exhibition where the project was available to view by a wider audience.
David Shrigley is a British visual artist who graduated from Fine Art at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1991, where he lived and worked; he then moved to Brighton, England in 2015 where he still lives and works now. Shrigley is best known for his distinctive drawing style, often including satirical slogans in relation to everyday life. With his wit and curiosity, Shrigley roamed around Maison Ruinart learning about Champagne production and the history. As well as the 42 artworks the artist produced, Shrigley also carved in graffiti on the chalk walls of the Maison’s cellars.
In the “secret film” about the project, Shrigley often picks up Ruinart Blanc de Blancs for inspiration, which is the signature Champagne of Maison Ruinart. In Champagne, Blanc de Blancs are made only from Chardonnay grapes, which are green-skinned with white flesh inside. The color of the Champagne is pale gold with persistent gentle bubbles and has ripe citrus on the initial nose followed by more floral notes; on the first sip there is a wave of white peaches and slightly unripe pineapples, but the acidity is not overpowering. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is a perfect Champagne with light seafood, but also very good on its own as aperitifs.
Yayoi Kusama re-interpreting La Grande Dame 2012 for Maison Veuve Clicquot
Veuve in French means “widow”, making the translation of the Champagne house, “Widow Clicquot”. Barbe-Nicole, the widow in reference, was married to François Clicquot, a son of a wealthy textile family. Soon after the marriage, the couple expanded into Champagne; the Clicquot family was already in the wine business and established the now Champagne house in 1772. While working hard in and out of the vineyard, the husband died in 1805 of a fever and Barbe-Nicole took over the company, bottling the first recorded vintage* Champagne in 1810.
*A Vintage Champagne is when 100% of the grapes come from one particular Vintage (year). Non-vintage wine is made by blending multiple years together.
In 2020, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was called on to revisit the bottle and case of Maison Veuve Clicquot’s new Vintage, La Grande Dame 2012. La Grande Dame was established as a tribute to Madame Clicquot (Barbe-Nicole), inspired by her creativity and elegance. The encounter between the two was not the first time, as in 2006 for a charity auction, Kusama re-interpreted the portrait of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot with her signature polka dots. Kusama brought upon the flower and polka dot motifs for the magnum* bottles of La Grande Dame 2012.
*A magnum is 1.5 liters, or the equivalent of two bottles. Magnums are usually more expensive per liter, as the inventory is smaller, and it is more expensive to make the off-size bottles.
Yayoi Kusama is an avant-garde sculptor, painter and novelist who was born in Matsumoto, Japan in 1929. As well as paintings and sculptures, Kusama’s influential practice expands to performance and room-scaled installations, including the famous Infinity Mirror Rooms, which transport the audience to an immersive experience of endless reflections. The collaboration with Maison Veuve Clicquot was especially fitting as the artist herself and Barbe-Nicole Clicquot both demonstrate resistance for the gender roles and flawless commitment to their work; creating a time-traveled collaboration more than 150 years apart.
La Grande Dame 2012 is made up of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. Madame Clicquot believed that Pinot Noir had the broadest range of potential to create the best Champagne; this grape variety also demands the very finest expertise from the Cellar Master*. Pinot Noir grapes have red skin but as the skins are not used in fermentation, the color of the Champagne remains golden. On the initial nose, La Grande Dame 2012 gives out hints of jasmine followed by pears and peaches, with slight almond at the end. It is more complex on the palate with a more powerful version of the scent; honey, dried apricot and hazelnuts. With rounded mineral taste to finish, the Vintage goes perfectly well with oysters before your main comes, or with lightly candied oranges for post-dinner dessert.
*The Cellar Master to Champagne is what the artist is to art; the brain behind the completed work. Every year, with an intricate nose and taste buds, the Cellar Master creates blend of wines from different grape varieties and vineyards.
Andy Warhol tribute for Dom Pérignon 2002
Dom Pérignon is a brand of Vintage Champagne by Moët & Chandon, inspired by Dom Pierre Pérignon; a monk at the Abbey of Hautvillers, overlooking the Champagne region. The Benedictine monk made an important contribution towards the making of Champagne during a time when red wine was predominantly produced. Each bottle of Dom Pérignon only contains grapes from a single year; presenting the uniqueness of that harvest year. Given that Vintage Champagne is not necessarily made every year, the brand showcases quality over quantity.
Best known for Pop Art, the style of Andy Warhol was chosen to inspire the design of the iconic shield label of Dom Pérignon’s 2002 Vintage Champagne. Although other artistic collaborations were done before, it was for the first time in the 74 years of the brand’s history to re-interpret the design of the shield label. The Design Laboratory housed within Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design, London was commissioned to design the label in close collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation, making sure the artist’s legacy and the heritage of Dom Pérignon were both intact.
Andy Warhol was known to be a fan of Champagne when he was alive. When gathered with his artist friends and socialites in entertainment spaces such as the Studio 54 nightclub, he was seen enjoying Dom Pérignon as his first choice of drink.
Dom Pérignon 2002 Andy Warhol Collector’s Edition project was especially inspired by a March 8, 1981, diary entry by Andy Warhol who wrote:
“Went to the gallery where they were having a little exhibition of the glittery Shoes, and had to do interviews and pics for the German newspaper and then we had to go back to the hotel and be picked up by the ‘2,000’ people - it’s a club of twenty guys who got together and they’re going to buy 2,000 bottles of Dom Pérignon which they will put in a sealed room until the year 2,000 and then open it up and drink it and so the running joke is who will be around and who won’t”.
Dom Pérignon 2002 is made up of 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir. On the nose it is warm with the smell of sweet spices and a hint of coriander and jasmine, rounded with fresh almonds as the first sip is taken. The golden feel of the Champagne continues in the mouth with honey and buttered brioche. With a younger bottle* where it still contains slight acidity, it goes well with slightly spicy food with a sweet finish accompanied with vegetables in shallots and herbs. With a more mature bottle, simply cooked fish such as Dover Sole in butter would be an ultimate pairing. Dom Pérignon 2002 can also be served entirely on its own as any other Champagne, especially when the Vintage itself offers so much flavor already.
*The minimum bottle aging for Vintage Champagne is three years, but once it is bottled they are aged further to the taste of individuals.
A younger bottle would indicate opening a bottle soon after its release.
Vik Muniz re-visits the iconic Belle Epoque Cuvée for Maison Perrier-Jouët
In 1811, having married just one year, Pierre Nicolas and Rose-Adélaïde Jouët founded Maison Perrier-Jouët and started to produce Champagne. Nicolas was a skilled wine merchant (and a botanist), and Jouët was a lover of arts and a daughter of a brandy producer. With passion for art, nature and Champagne, the philosophy of freedom to creativity is still valued in Maison Perrier-Jouët. In their boutique, regular showcases of artistic collaborations and installations can be experienced.
Artistic collaboration between Art and Maison Perrier-Jouët goes back to 1902 when Emile Gallé was commissioned to design the bottle, decorated with the emblematic anemone. Then in 1964 Cellar Master at the time André Baveret re-discovered the four custom-made magnum bottles painted by Gallé and the now iconic Belle Epoque Cuvée* was born. The re-interpretation of the bottle of the 2005 Vintage of Belle Epoque Cuvée Rosé was commissioned to Vik Muniz, where he added a hummingbird seeking nectar from the pink anemone, instead of the usual white petals.
*Cuvée refers to Champagne made from the very first and gently pressed grapes, which is often a measure of quality; or the term is sometimes refers to a particular blend according to a recipe.
For the design of Belle Epoque Cuvée Rosé 2005, Vik Muniz was inspired by the surrounding of his house and studio which is full of birds that he describes as “little fairies”. The subject of nature is often a subject for Muniz’s own work, especially the human impact on earth. Muniz uses various materials to create his work, then photographs them. This method was applied in the collaboration with Maison Perrier-Jouët; Muniz used scrapes of gold to create the scene, which was photographed afterwards as the final design.
“Much as Perrier-Jouët has long embraced Art Nouveau’s love of nature and enchantment, I took the idea of captivation in a natural setting as the inspiration for this motif.”
Belle Epoque Cuvée Rosé 2005 is a treat for the nose and the palate, as well as the eyes with its complexity and stunning color that is from adding red wines (that makes up the 15% of the bottle) from the region of Vertus and Vincelles. The rest of the Champagne is made up of 50% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay, and 5% Pinot Meunier. Rich scent of pomegranate and persimmon welcomes the nose followed by hints of ripe pink grapefruit. With its salmon-pink color the first sip is as expected; bright and fruity with acidity that rounds the sweetness off. The perfectly balanced Belle Epoque Cuvée Rosé 2005 is a great companion to salty caviar on brioche, or tuna tartare with yuzu dressing.
Making art and producing Champagne are similar in nature; although tradition is important, both processes encourage to think outside of the box to come up with new ideas and solutions. We hope you enjoyed the seriously sparkling curation of Art and Champagne, and leave you with the quote from David Shrigely.
"There is the idea that Champagne occupies a special place within beverages, one synonymous with celebration, synonymous with luxury. This association with celebration connects it to the beginning and ending of things: the beginning of a marriage, or the end of a project. I’m interested in trying to find these metaphors, and the poetic aspect within the story of Champagne."