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Analysis out of the box

Art and wine, wine and art

Analysis out of the boxArt & Business | Art & business | Wine is a separate entity, a unique product with significant cultural and symbolic significance. And yet the divine drink has real difficulty in finding image codes and meaning in line with its imaginary power. Brand strategy or otherwise, the link with art may turn out to be relevant and effective. Spotlight on three very unique cases.

La fontaine d’Aubigné © Claudio Parmiggiani/Aubigné-sur-Layon, 2008
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La fontaine d’Aubigné
© Claudio Parmiggiani/Aubigné-sur-Layon, 2008

The Château Mouton Rothschild label

A pioneer

In 1924, Baron Philippe de Rothschild commissioned Jean Carlu to create an original piece of art to decorate the labels for the bottles of that year’s vintage.
The desire to promote wine culture without using an image of the château proved to be a visionary and innovative approach. And although there was no immediate continuation, the message conveyed was that this exceptional wine was a timeless piece of art.
Artistic collaboration began again in 1945, and since then, each vintage has featured original artwork. Miro, Kandinsky, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Niki de Saint Phalle, and in recent years, Bob Wilson, Kabakov, Lucian Freud, Bernar Vene have all collaborated in exchange for this precious liquid.

The concept of the label

The layout of the label must subscribe to a very involved brand strategy which has remained the same : the contemporary artwork, interacting with the image of the wine, features in the upper third. The rest of the label contrasts with a focus on classic elegance. The Central Coat of Arms and the writing in English characters specific to aristocratic codes are evocative of an « invitation ». Finally, Philippe de Rothschild’s red, « hand-written » signature looks almost out of place, giving the impression that he signs his wine like an artist signs his artwork.
Thus, the upper part evokes the idea of creation while the hand-written label promotes tradition, elegance and rigour with a touch of the intimate invitation. On the whole, the label conveys the particular excellence of the estate that was awarded the Premier Grand Cru of Paulliac label in the 1960s.
It should be noted that this approach is commercially successful to this day, while the estate is wonderfully received abroad as a symbol of the French spirit that blends creation and tradition.

But Château Monton Rothschild is an exception. Although there are many attractive labels from English-speaking and Italian wine-makers, the French approach is defiant in this regard and often falls back on codes that convey little and carry little meaning.

The « jaja de Jau » label by Ben

Wine to be enjoyed with friends

In contrast to Mouton Rothschild, Jaja de Jau is an entry-level wine : a thirst quencher and a wine to be enjoyed with friends that appeals to the mass market and is successfully distributed in shopping centres.
The owners of the estate and the collectors were friends of artists and all wine-lovers. In this context, it gœs without saying that a label should be created, especially when it concerns a liquid exchange. And though there may have been no brand strategy to begin with, this label designed by Ben hit the bull’s eye. It has become the symbol of Jau and forged its brand and image.

The concept of a label, a play on words

Ben designed the label with friendliness in mind. There is no image, but just a play on words that flows naturally from the popular expression, « jaja ». Jaja de Jau is essentially a chorus to sing over and over again; an unforgettable refrain and the best way in which to promote the name of the estate, located near to Perpignan.

The Jau estate, cultural influence

The Jau estate possesses and manages a contemporary art space located within its walls, opposite the small restaurant which opens in summer. Part of the region’s summer cultural programme, its events and this interplay between wine and art contribute to the development of a passing clientele.


The village of Anjou, the power of identity

Wine culture is a cornerstone of the small village of Anjou that had been working for many years to obtain a name change from the state council in order to allow wine-makers in the region to benefit from the « sur Layon » label. In this vein, and as the church square undergœs renovation work, the municipal council has decided to commission Claudio Parmiggiani to create a permanent piece of art.

The Aubigné fountain by Claudio Parmiggiani

The artist designed a piece of artwork intended to add to village life. The Aubigné fountain comes across as liturgical and mysterious with a spherical shape and materials - bronze and gold - reminiscent of a celestial and luminous globe.
Closed during the year, it opens in accordance with a ritual specific to wine producers, being revealed on Heritage Day (the last Sunday in August) or during big events linked to community life.
And from the Aubigné Fountain - a real fountain of alchemy - spurts the precious Layon wine.
Claudio Parmiggiani has put a modern spin on the symbolic expression of the spirit of wine, the connection to the Earth, Time, Nature, alchemy, a precious liquid and conviviality.

Each of these three cases - a vintage, a thirst-quenching wine and the cultural spirit of a community - remain isolated nonetheless, and demonstrate the potential in the link between art and wine, which can be effective when properly used or mastered.

Manuel Fialho / Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 15/02/2012
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Version française

La fontaine d’Aubigné © Claudio Parmiggiani/Aubigné-sur-Layon, 2008 La fontaine d’Aubigné, 2008 © Claudio Parmiggiani/Aubigné-sur-Layon La fontaine d’Aubigné, 2008 © Claudio Parmiggiani/Aubigné-sur-Layon Etiquette Keith Harring © Chateau Mouton Rothschild Etiquette  Ben © Jaja de Jau

La fontaine d’Aubigné
© Claudio Parmiggiani/Aubigné-sur-Layon, 2008

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