Tuscany has a long tradition of arts patronage and wine production, dating back to the Renaissance and beyond, and still very much alive in the area. It doesn’t come as a surprise then, that the two are now combined via a summer-long project that matches the most illustrious wine makers of the region with local and international galleries to display contemporary works of art.
Born from an idea of Luziah Hennessy and brought to life in collaboration with international artists and art institutions, 'The Art of the Treasure Hunt' is an itinerary of discovery that will allow visitors to get closer to wineries and find hidden works of art displayed within.
The seven participating wineries are dotted throughout the Chianti region, and were selected for the superb quality of their wines (all bearing a Wine Spectator rating of between 90 and 98) and for the history behind them. They include Castello di Ama (already working closely with artists on site-specific installations), Colle Bereto and Castello di Volpaia in the north, and the Swiss-owned estate of Gagliole in the west. In the south of the region, participants include Castello di Brolio, Borgo San Felice and Felsina, a trio of prestigious vintners with fascinating histories and locations.
Headed by Tate Liverpool senior curator Kasia Redzisz, the programme involves Italian galleries such as Naples’ Galleria Fonti, Franco Noero in Turin and A Palazzo Gallery in Brescia. International players taking part in the project are Thaddaeus Ropac, Beck & Eggeling from Düsseldorf, Galeria Nara Roesler from São Paulo, London’s Gallery Sprovieri and Galerie Ron Mandos from Amsterdam. Italian lighting company Slamp is also taking part, presenting its most recent collaboration with American theatre director Robert Wilson in the enchanting medieval environs of Felsina, and two Zaha Hadid-designed pendant lamps installed at Borgo San Felice. The entire project is dedicated to the memory of the late architect, and proceeds will benefit Wilson’s Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation as well as charitable organisations in Florence, São Paulo and the Middle East.
Light is a central focus of the project; with Wilson and Hadid’s works but also with art installations, such as Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis’ light sculpture installed in the wine cellars at Felsina, and Isaac Julien's photographic light boxes at Colle Bereto. Julien and Wilson will kick off the project with a conversation at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi, where the American director will also receive the keys to the city in honour of his services to the arts.
'The Art of the Treasure Hunt' offers a unique opportunity to explore and examine the powerful impact that contemporary art has when juxtaposed with a traditional placement; the settings within each winery have been carefully selected to highlight the powerful combination between location and artwork. This also gives the visitor the chance to reassess the impact that the immediate surrounding has on the work.
Through these encounters, the project highlights the precious nature of art and the considered approach of both winemakers and artists. ‘Rather than a pilgrimage, we are invited to celebrate the magical fusion of two arts,’ says art author Sydney Picasso, who contributed a prologue to the project. ‘Here, the past meets the present, tradition encounters challenge and each player has their unique recipe to offer.’