Ornellaia 2011 “L’Infinito”
Every year, an internationally renowned artist interprets the unique character of the vintage by creating a work of art and a series of exclusive labels. Each one individually signed and numbered, these “Vendemmia d’Artista” labels dress a series of extremely-limited large-format bottles of Ornellaia, usually totalling 111. Much sought-after by wine and contemporary art collectors, some of the bottles are featured at special charity auctions, with the proceeds donated to Arts foundations. To interpret the ‘Infinity’ character, Ornellaia has invited Canadian artist Rodney Graham to apply his genius to 100 3-litre Double Magnums, 10 6-litre Imperials, and a unique 9-litre Salmanazar. Inspired by the way in which Ornellaia is a source of inspiration for both the senses and the spirit, Rodney Graham, one of the world’s most highly-acclaimed artists, has taken Poetry as his artistic medium to interpret the theme of ‘Infinity’.
The Artist Rodney Graham
Canadian born Rodney Graham is considered one of the finest artists on the current scene, winning deep respect for the rigorously intellectual quality of his art, which ranges through photography, film, video, music, sculpture, painting, and writing. Graham’s work analyses social systems and philosophies of thought, with particular reference to the Enlightenment and Modernism. Each work of art bears the hallmarks of an historical context, which embeds a complex narrative incorporating literary and philosophical references as well as visual word games. To interpret the ‘Infinity’ theme of Ornellaia 2011, Graham drew inspiration from the wine itself, which inspires the mind towards the infinite possibilities of creation, such as poetry. The poetic composition represents the transcending of perceptual capacity, and it is only through thought that one succeeds in touching the infinite. Rodney Graham represented Canada at Venice’s 1997 International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia and he has had important personal shows at museums such as the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Rodney Graham has won deep respect for the rigorously intellectual quality of his art, which ranges through photography, film, video, music, sculpture, painting, and writing. The sources of his inspiration are as varied as 19th-century scientific experimentation, pop culture of the 1980s, and all of literature, while he often pays tribute in his works to those who have influenced his life and oeuvre, including Sigmund Freud, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, the Brothers Grimm, Richard Wagner, and Stéphane Mallarmé. Graham’s work analyses social systems and philosophies of thought, with particular reference to the Enlightenment and Modernism. Each individual work bears the hallmarks of an historical context, which embeds a complex narrative incorporating literary and philosophical references as well as visual word games. Among Graham’s most important group of works is a series of photographs of upside down trees, which both summon up the origins of photography itself, conjuring up the inverted and reversed images created by the early camera oscuras, as well as draw attention to the process of rationalisation whereby we frame and define our vision of the world. In the words of the artist, “You don’t have to delve very deeply into modern physics to realize that the scientific view holds that the world is really not as it appears. Before the brain rights it, the eye sees a tree upside down in the same way it appears on the glass back of the large format field camera I use. I chose the tree as an emblematic image because it is often used in diagrams in popular scientific books and because it was used in Saussure’s book on linguistics to show the arbitrary relation between the so-called signifier and the signified.” The work that Graham created for Ornellaia is an upside down photo of the century-old oak at Bellaria, on the Ornellaia wine estate.
To interpret the ‘Infinity’ character, Ornellaia has invited Canadian artist Rodney Graham to apply his genius to 100 3-litre Double Magnums, 10 6-litre Imperials, and a unique 9-litre Salmanazar. He has composed a series of poems that have been printed as labels, using traditional typographic techniques to display the expertise and fine tradition of Italian craftsmen. The 100 Double Magnums bear a poem incorporated into the label’s geometrical shape, whereas the ten 6-litre Imperials and the single 9-litre Salmanazar are each adorned with a different poem and a different-contoured label, which make each individual bottle an unique artwork unto itself. In addition, Graham has collected all of the poems into an art-book entitled ‘Short Poems of Merit’. The way in which each book is bound differs according to the different bottle formats: paper for the 3-litre bottles, cloth for the 6-litre, and leather for the 9-litre. A numbered and signed copy of the book will accompany each bottle.
On 12 June 2014, ORNELLAIA was in the spotlight at a charity auction and gala dinner with 9 lots, which included 8 special bottles created by Rodney Graham for Vendemmia d’Artista Ornellaia 2011 L’Infinito. Under the gavel of Jamie Ritchie, CEO & President Sotheby’s Americas & Asia, the auction raised funds (86.000 Euro) that all went to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) of Toronto, the venue of the auction.