This week, Italian wine producer Ornellaia opened its 12th annual online benefit auction in collaboration with Sotheby’s and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, featuring vintages with label designs by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno. Chloe Frost Smith takes a closer look at the available lots
This year’s auction continues Ornellaia’s Vendemmia d’Artista project, which commissions a different contemporary artist each year to create an artwork for a series of limited-edition labels. The artist is given a single word description of that year’s harvest by the estate director, Axel Heinz, as inspiration. Last year, Iranian artist Shirin Neshat responded to ‘La Tensione’ with a series of monochrome photographs, and this year, Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno has incorporated ‘Solare’ (‘radiant’ in English) into several aspects of his designs.
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Renowned for his interactive installations that allude to new sustainable ways of living, Saraceno has created a striking set of labels which depict various phases of a solar eclipse for nine lots of Imperials, to be sold individually or in pairs. The auction’s most prestigious lot comes in the form of the Salmanazar sculpture, titled “PNEUMA 4.21×105”, an impressive 9-litre bottle of Ornellaia 2017 topped with a floating sphere anchored to the neck of the bottle. Reminiscent of the artist’s previous work on untethered flight, this celestial sculpture highlights the importance of the relationship between the Sun and the Earth, and of renewable resources more generally.
Not only embodying ‘Solare’ visually, the labels are a tangible take on the concept – made from thermochromic paper, which changes colour according to the heat of a person’s hand. This sensory detail invites reflection on the impact of humanity on the planet, in keeping with the wider issue of environmental sustainability which is at the heart of both Saraceno’s artistic ethos and Ornellaia’s production philosophy, which has long focused on self-sustaining ecosystems and precision agriculture.
Bringing a sense of completion to the auction, a unique vertical of the last six years of Ornellaia is available, in twelve 750ml bottles featuring the customised labels in a celebratory wooden case, alongside six Ornellaia Bianco magnums from the last three vintages.
The auction ends on 9 September 2020. Register via: sothebys.com/ornellaia