Courtyard party showing large monochrome artwork of hands

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s label designs on display at the closing ceremony of the Ornellaia auction at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Italian wine producer Ornellia’s 11th annual online benefit auction in collaboration with Sotheby’s and the Solomon. R. Guggenheim museum, featured vintages with label designs by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat. Digital Editor Millie Walton recalls the closing ceremony at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Photography by James Houston

Gliding along the Venetian canals as the sunsets is one of those rare moments when real-life seems to align with cinema. More than a couple of times during the evening, as we’re standing in the courtyard and then on rooftop of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection sipping glasses of Ornellaia vintage, someone makes a comparison with La Grande Bellezza. We’re here, though, not just for the wine or the view, but to celebrate the funds raised by the Sotheby’s conducted auction of Ornellaia in support of the Mind’s Eye Program at the Solomon. R. Guggenheim Museum.

Party guests stand in courtyard watching a screen

Guests watching the final few minutes of the online auction projected onto a screen

Large wine bottle with artistic label

One of Neshat’s label designs

The auction is part of the Italian wine producer’s Vendemmia d’Artista project, which each year, commissions a different contemporary artist to create an artwork for a series of limited-edition labels. The artist is give a single word description of that year’s harvest as the starting point, for Shirin Neshat it was, appropriately, “La Tensione”.

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Known for her iconic monochrome aesthetic and poetic vision, the Iranian artist produced a haunting series of photographs of luminous white hands in various postures, inscribed with Persian script. These were then transformed in labels for bottles of the 2016 vintage, which were auctioned in 11 unique lots, the most coveted of which included a visit to the Ornellaia vineyard and a luxurious overnight stay.

Two women speaking at a drinks party

Artist Shirin Neshat, who produced a series of monochrome photographs for the Italian wine producer

Following a series of speeches from various team members at Ornellaia and Neshat herself (during which guests can be seen frantically bidding on their phones), the auctioneer calls an end to the auction, announcing the grand total of $ 312.000. To celebrate, we are invited to sample Ornellaia’s wines whilst nibbling canapés over looking the Grand Canal.

For more information on Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista visit: ornellaia.com/en/vendemmia-d-artista