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Ruinart taps David Shrigley for a project of unfailing humour
When the best grapes meet an exceptional artist for a very special project
Art Stuff 03 Apr 2020

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Ruinart – the oldest established Champagne house – has long been a supporter of contemporary arts. With a rich and complex history, the Maison has never stopped developing and promoting its own special art of living since 1729.

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Since its creation, La Maison Ruinart has been closely linked to artistic creation. In 1896, Maison Ruinart commissioned Czech artist Alphonse Mucha to create a poster for its exceptional product: it was a bold choice that caused a sensation at the time. Centuries later it’s a legacy that manifests every year when carte blanche is given to an artist to create an ensemble of works inspired by the champagne house. In the past it has commissioned a number of artists to present their own unique vision of the brand including Vik Muniz, Liu Bolin, Jaume Plensa, and Erwin Olaf.

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“Art is part of Ruinart’s very identity: it expresses its refinement and out- standing commitment to culture”, explains Frédéric Dufour, Maison Ruinart’s Chairman. He attends all the most prestigious contemporary art events: Art Basel, FIAC, Paris Photo, Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze New York, Frieze London, Art Basel Hong Kong, Kyotographie, and many others.

This time Ruinart is collaborating with British artist David Shrigley for its 2020 partnership. Shrigley’s unique vision and unfailing humour present Maison Ruinart in a new light, with a signature style, he casts an eye on his surroundings with incomparable irony. He deploys rudimentary illustrations paired with absurd yet irrevocable sentences. He challenges and warns his audience, using humour— from the naive to noir—as his high-precision weapon of choice.  He enhances the viewers’ awareness of challenges that the world throws at us, and he in turn bubbles up cheeky bits of wisdom.

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“This collaboration has given me the opportunity to learn something about the complex process of making champagne and to make some art that addresses that, to find a way to say something about that process. It is a voyage of discovery: I had no expectations, other than to learn something.” – David Shrigley

During his time at Maison Ruinart in Champagne, Shrigley ambled through the vineyards, explored the cellars, and observed the expressions and gestures of those who work there. With his sharp gaze, he sheds new light on Maison Ruinart’s heritage and savoir-faire, revealing its singularity, adding his own mark to it—quite literally, by scribbling graffiti on the chalk walls of the Maison’s emblematic cellars. His impish art is curiosity-driven: he studied the habits and customs of those with expertise in the vineyards, be it oenologists or other Ruinart champagne specialists. Through his drawings, David Shrigley takes viewers on an enlightening yet playful journey of champagne production. Concurrently, he raises awareness about the environmental challenges that motivate and drive Maison Ruinart on a daily basis. Humour is, without question, one of the most effective tools to enhance awareness.

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The works commissioned by Maison Ruinart will be exhibited in art fairs across the world throughout the coming year.

“Each time the work is installed, it presents an opportunity to make something feel new. I will not design each booth in advance, but there are many options, so each space will be different and perhaps the work will tell a slightly different story in each place. Hopefully the project is going to look different every time.” David Shrigley

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From making provocative statements in neon to highlighting the beauty of monumental ceramics, Shrigley expresses his artistic talent in a multitude of ways within the works that will be on show. These installations will prompt the visitors to question the different ways they perceive the bottles of champagne and their powerful contents.

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Ruinart is partnering with more than 34 major art fairs around the world over the course of 2020, all of which represent the excellence and diversity of artistic practices.

Enjoy responsibly!

Text By Peigi Mackillop

Images via Ruinart and photo credits by: Art by David Shrigley, Frédéric Guélaff, Thomas Duval, Maire Pierre Morel, Andrew Perris – Photography Firm, Todd White

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