Top terroir: ’The Art of the Treasure Hunt’ hides fine art within wineries

Side by side images of a corridor with small and large distillery barrels.
Debuting in July, 'The Art of the Treasure Hunt' is a summer-long project which brings art to the most illustrious wineries of Tuscany's Chianti region. Pictured: La Traviata, by Bob Wilson, at Felsina
(Image credit: TBC)

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.’

Inside a hallway with barrels.

Situated north east of Siena, Felsina is a celebrated winery built around a medieval courtyard. For the project, the winery's theme is going to be 'Let There be Light', and the cellar will host, among other pieces of contemporary art, a series of chandeliers designed by American theatre director Bob Wilson for Italian company Slamp. Pictured: La Traviata, by Bob Wilson, at Felsina

(Image credit: TBC)

A close-up of a metal peregrine installation.

American artist Mark Handforth's Peregrine is installed in the outdoor environs of Felsina. The setting within each winery has been carefully selected to highlight the powerful combination between location and artwork

(Image credit: TBC)

A light strip adjacent to a barrel stand.

Another work displayed under the 'Let There be Light' aegis at Felsina is Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis' luminous sculpture. Titled London Angle, the work was displayed in collaboration with Galleria Sprovieri

(Image credit: TBC)

A rectangular block standing in the walls of a castle.

Heinz Mack's Silver Stele is installed in the grounds of Castello di Brolio, an imposing rural castle near Gaiole

(Image credit: TBC)

A duo of chandeliers in a room with stacked barrels.

Elsewhere, at Borgo San Felice, Slamp is paying tribute to the late Zaha Hadid with a duo of chandeliers – titled Aria and Avia – that the architect created in 2013. Surrounded by 140 hectares of vineyards, the owners of Borgo San Felice have in recent years turned the medieval village into a Relais & Château hotel

(Image credit: TBC)

Jute sack installation inside a room with barrels.

Borgo San Felice also hosts Ibrahim Mahama's jute sack installation, Barikisa VIP, part of his installation at the 2015 Venice Biennale  

(Image credit: TBC)

Pieces of stone and rock inside an exhibition case.

Castello di Ama, located near the town of Gaiole, boasts a large art collection of its own. Created over 16 years, it includes collaborations with international artists, who have contributed site specific installations to the medieval borgo. For the project, Castello di Ama welcomed a work by German artist Anselm Kiefer, Luftwurzel, in collaboration with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

(Image credit: TBC)

Multi-wine level wine/bottle racks with a painting on the wall of someone in a snow field.

Isaac Julien's Stones Against Diamonds, on display at Castello di Volpaia

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On the wall is a photo of several canal boats stored ontop of each other on a beach.

Another work by Isaac Julien, Western Union Series N. 8, at Colle Bereto

(Image credit: TBC)

Three circular plates with a white/grey painting displayed on a green backdrop.

Colle Bereto also hosts a work called Good bye, by Russian artist Alexandra Shukhareva, pictured

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Exterior of a building with a beige door and torso on the step.

The work of Angolan photographer Edson Chagas – the image Found Not Taken is pictured here – is on display at Castello di Volpaia, in collaboration with A Palazzo Gallery

(Image credit: TBC)

Two levels of barrels with an image on the wall behind displaying the Mass Games from DPRK.

Philippe Chancel's Arirang Mass Games from DPRK is on show at Castello di Volpaia, the highest elevated winery of the region, enclosed in a medieval fort. '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 setting

(Image credit: TBC)

Two pieces of artwork on display. Left: A grey pattern. Right: A red pattern.

Masaccio and Gentila da Fabriano, two works by Neapolitan artist Giulia Piscitelli, are exhibited at Gagliole. The small winery, located in the eponymous village, is owner by Zürich's Thomas and Monika Bar, and the estate dates back to AD994

(Image credit: TBC)


'The Art of the Treasure Hunt' runs until 30 October. For more information, visit the project's website

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.