Maison Ruinart is mixing art with gastronomy for a witty celebration.
For the world's oldest Champagne brand, Ruinart, it is important to balance the weight of tradition with the effervescence of contemporary art. That is why it engages each year with an exciting artist which it invites to its Maison in Reims to deliver their interpretation of the Champagne house.
“We don’t want to target mass; we don’t want to shout; we want to target knowledgeable hedonists who appreciate the beautiful things in life," said Ruinart CEO, Frederic Dufour, in an interview.
The brand, in Dufour’s words, is one that speaks of quality, a historic ‘savoir-faire’. It has long been associated with artists, from 1896 when André Ruinart asked the greatest illustrator of his time, Alphonse Mucha, to create an advertisement that became an icon. Ruinart positions itself in the VIP lounges of art fairs, not polo matches. It has so far collaborated with twelve artists, including the Chinese artist Liu Bolin who appeared to ‘disappear’ in front of its iconic vineyards and cellars, and Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who created blackened 'roots' out of charcoal.
This year (rolled over from last year) the artist chosen by the 290-year-old Champagne house, is Brighton-based British artist David Shrigley, who takes a humorous and witty approach. He created a series of 36 drawings, sculptures, installations and neon lights, called 'Unconventional Bubbles' (Bulles singulières), which retrace his discoveries around making wine and pay homage to nature's role in the process. His works of art explore—in an unexpected way—the expressions and gestures of those who work the vines, and also narrate the wine-making process. His works also now adorn the limited-edition box (thirty copies) of the Blanc de Blancs jeroboam by Maison Ruinart.
Next month, the Shrigley collaboration continues with a gastronomic experience at Hôtel La Mirande, a historic venue with a Michelin-starred restaurant. The FOOD FOR ART is a special menu inspired by Shrigley's works, linking gastronomy together with art and the Maison’s cuvées.
Inside La Mirande’s storied walls, the chef Florent Pietravalle has one Michelin-star and one green Michelin star, for his sustainable, seasonal approach. Trained under Joel Robuchon and Pierre Gagnaire, the chef firmly believes that respecting nature will give any chef all he needs; he sources the best quality products from suppliers and farmers near Avignon. Adamant about sustainability, he runs a fermentation lab and uses coffee grounds and vegetable compost to run a mushroom farm under the restaurant.
Pietravalle worked with cellar master Frédéric Panaïotis to compose a singular menu (that will be served 4 times during the summer, July 9th, 23rd, August 6th and 13th): the six courses are an ode to creativity, audacity and unconventional pairings. To the question "What do a chef and an artist share?", Shrigley answers: “Creativity, commitment and devotion”. This summer’s four dinners at La Mirande are just that: a tribute to creativity, natural tastes and excellence.
Separately, this summer, French contemporary art museum, The Lambert Collection welcomes Shrigley with a solo exhibition titled ‘Before the Lawn Takes its Revenge...’,. The exhibition features one hundred black and white drawings produced ten years ago for a show in Yvon Lambert’s Paris gallery, and also some of the colourful works created at the Ruinart estate.
“In the singular worlds of David Shrigley, we find antiheroes who are awkward, goofy, disingenuously naive, and at times, mean," curator Stéphane Ibars explains. "They are immersed in the chaos of an absurd world where all human activities seem inevitably doomed to failure. The characters, fragile by nature, share their idle days with a troupe of animals and fantastic creatures that seem exiled from some fairy tale or born of the lunatic imaginings of a science fiction writer."
The FOOD FOR ART menu includes dishes such as:
Langoustine, carrot and pollen,
paired with a glass of Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009
Monkfish, green fava, pil-pil,
paired with a glass of R de Ruinart Millésime 2009 (magnum)
Lamb, seaweed, potatoes,
paired with a glass of Dom Ruinart Rosé 2007
UNCONVENTIONAL menu by chef Florent Pietravalle at La Mirande: €200per person, including Champagne pairings.
Four dates available: July 9th, 23rd, August 6th and 13th.