Château Mouton Rothschild vineyard in autumn with golden leaves

Château Mouton-Rothschild vineyards in autumn Image: Mathieu Anglada Saison d’Or

We all know that collectors of fine art are liable to collectors of great wine: how better to appreciate a Joan Miró painting or Takashi Murakami installation than over a glass of one of the world’s finest wines?
German artist Gerhard Richter creates artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild

Gerhard Richter. Image: Studio Gerhard Richter, 2017

Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the great estates of Bordeaux, takes the connection further, commissioning a different leading world artist to design its label for its top wine every year. To collect bottles of Mouton from the past sixty years is to be immersed in original creations from the likes of Miró, Pablo Picasso, Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Keith Haring, Wassily Kandinsky – the list is a who’s who of the world’s great artists.

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So it’s no surprise that the latest, 2015, vintage has been announced to be sporting a label by the great German expressionist Gerhard Richter – indeed, one could wonder what took the collaboration so long. Richter’s other-worldly ability to reinvent himself, to pioneer new genres, and to blend elements of the social commentary so prevalent in contemporary creative culture with the purism of fine art, makes him the most collectible living artist. His works sell for tens of millions – a development which he apparently scorns.

Gerhard Richter's artistic label for Château Mouton Rothschild

Gerhard Richter’s label for the 2015 vintage

The work he created for his label, Flux, is stunning, alive, compelling, angry and colourful. The technique he uses involves spreading enamel paint on a plate of plexiglass on which he then presses and moves another glass plate to generate a swirling composition of colours. Richter then photographs the still fluctuating colours when he considers their composition to be momentarily harmonious.

It is appropriate that Richter, who turns 86 next year and who spends his summers at the other-worldly Waldhaus Sils in Switzerland’s high mountains, has been paired with 2015, one of the greatest vintages of recent times. Like the 2015 ‘grand vin’, he is an artist whose works will stand the test of decades – and even centuries.


Reading time: 1 min
London based artist Sam Winston created an installation of art and poetry whilst working in total darkness
pencil eye drawn in the darkness by artist sam winston

Artist Sam Winston spent 7 days and 7 nights living and creating art in a darkroom

Darkness heightens our senses, challenges our perceptions and opens up new creative visions, according to London based visual artist Sam Winston. For this month’s poetry muse, Rhiannon Williams learns about the power of the dark for artists and poets alike.

Sam Winston spent 7 days and 7 nights living and creating in a darkroom. Out of this absolute darkness emerged some extraordinary art, and an even more extraordinary installation: ‘Darkness Visible’ at the National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre in London displays art and poetry that has been created in the dark. It brings to light both the privilege and drawbacks of physical sight, while simultaneously leading you to question what ‘sight’ really is.

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The title of the installation, ‘Darkness Visible’, is a phrase from John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost‘, the epic poem which Milton wrote whilst he was blind by dictating his verse. The title is apt, as the dichotomy of light/dark is overturned in the paradoxical idea of a darkness you can see. Living temporarily in darkness, Sam Winston was able to explore the boundaries of experience and his body in new ways, as the systems and orders that we impose upon the day and regulate ourselves by were made redundant by the dark. Time, for example, without differentiation between night and day becomes an endless mass. According to Sam it is this ‘walking along the shoreline’ of different boundaries and pushing the threshold of what we can experience which shapes his art.

London based artist Sam Winston created an installation of art and poetry whilst working in total darkness

Sam Winston, ‘Darkness Visible’ 2017

The idea took form after a series of studio experimentations and playing about with misleading ideas about darkness as ignorance, as lack. Instead Sam argues that darkness can and should be viewed in a new way: as a creative resource. As someone who is dyslexic, the way Sam sees words is different, which is reflected in the style of his artwork; a lot of the pieces take the form of intricate text webs, the words forming enormous shapes and shadows, hurricanes across a blank page. In this way, Sam attempts to change at a structural level the discourse that surrounds darkness and dyslexia, suggesting that sensory perceptions not involving sight and light should be explored more thoroughly.

Read next: Leading art dealer Marc Glimcher of Pace Gallery on the value of public art

Subsequently, Sam commissioned ‘darkness residencies’ from leading young poets in London including Emily Berry, George Szirtes and Kayo Chingonyi who all spent time in a darkroom and wrote about it afterwards – their work is currently on show as a part of the exhibition at the Poetry Library. ‘The idea of total darkness is not the same as total darkness. The idea of light is not the same as light’, George Szirtes wrote, linking to the idea that terms of knowledge such as enlightenment and illumination all conjure up imagery of light and vision, whereas terms of darkness suggest oblivion and ignorance. What Winston has created is a poetic inversion, revolutionary in the sense that it performs a full circle on what our notions of darkness-as-limitation are. In this installation darkness is, in a way, art itself.

portrait of poet Kayo Chingonyi creating poetry in the dark

Poet Kayo Chingonyi on a ‘darkness residency’. Image: Andy Sewell

‘Darkness Visible’ runs until 25 March 2018 at the National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre; Sam Winston, Emily Berry, George Szirtes and Kayo Chingonyi will be in conversation with other multimedia artists on 11 January 2018 at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Reading time: 3 min