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Ernesto Neto: Ornellaia 2014 – L’Essenza.  Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista


The 9th annual Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista commissioned Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto to illustrate Ornellaia 2014 L’Essenza. The art project, launched in 2009, by Italian winery, Ornellaia, selects an artist each year to create an artwork to interpret the distinctive character of the individual vintage.

Ernesto Neto turned to his current field of art research – shamanism as science, natural phenomena, and the artisanal arts that are the collective fruit of the community to interpret Ornellaia 2014 ‘L’Essenza. In 2014, Neto and the members of the Huni Kin tribe in Brazil undertook a series of artistic collaborations that analysed shamanic rituals and traditions. The spiritual life of that tribe, their striving for healing in harmony with nature, and the wisdom and serenity that they draw from their intimate bond with the energy of our earth infused into Neto’s oeuvre an unprecedented awareness of the power of nature and of the dynamic factors that regulate it. Drawing from these traditions, and from the shamans and their rituality, the artist’s recent works convey aspects of transformation and add multiple layers of meaning to his research into social- and ecology-based connectivity.

“We are talking about a wine, a sacred juice that comes from the plants. I thought about time, the time of the cycles of the wine, in this time that we are living so speedily, wine is slow, because it is nature and nature is slow. Nowadays I see trees as a civilizing entity, one hand in complete darkness, and another hand in complete light; in the middle the trunk, the fruits, the seeds- all of it coming from dark and from the light. This drawing is a kind of old drawing of mine; I have done many of these drawings, thinking about time, about cycles, how somethings begin, then comes back to the beginning; the end and the beginning kissing each other.” Ernesto Neto


For Ornellaia’s Vendemmia d’Artista project, Ernesto Neto sought to convey the concept of natural balance as it is exemplified in our modern societies. He encapsulated 111 large-format bottles with an interwoven mesh, specifically 100 3-litre double magnums, 10 6-litre Imperials, and one single 9-litre Salmanazar, which together represent a social hierarchy with a single King, 10 Nobles, and a populace of 100 subjects, and in so doing illustrates the equilibrium that should reign in every community, with a hierarchy that is necessary so that all can live in harmony within the group and in uniformity with Mother Nature.  In addition, Neto designed a special label for the 750ml bottles of Ornellaia, with one bottle bearing that label included in every 6-bottle wooden box.

At a charity auction in April 201, hosted by Sotheby’s New York, $ 112,500 (104,000 Euro) was raised to benefit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in New York. The annual Ornellaia art project has in eight years of activity donated more than one million euros to art organisation across the globe  including the Whitney Museum, New York; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Royal Opera House, London; H2 Foundation, Hong Kong and Shanghai; Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan; AGO, Toronto; Beyeler Foundation, Basel; and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

Ornellaia 2014 L'Essenza_by Ernesto Neto_NY Guggenheim Museum_1Ernesto Neto, born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro, lives and work in Brazil. He studied at the city’s Escola de artes visuais do Parque Lage in 1994 and in 1997, and also attended the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art from 1994 to 1996.

He is known for his large installations utilizing mesh, fabrics, spices, and stones. He draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, from the modernist traditions of Biomorphism, Arte Povera, and American Minimalism, to Brazilian Neo-concretism. Since the 1990s, Neto has created an oeuvre in which elements such as improvisation and chance intersect with geometry and gravitational force. His activity brings together mind and body through the experience of space, utilising the senses to align together the viewer’s physical and psychological dimensions.

The Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista project was curated by Bartolomeo Pietrimarchi (Curator, MAXXI, Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo) and Maria Alicata.


Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista

Rebecca Horn: – L’Energia


Rodney Graham – L’Infinito


John Armleder – L’Incanto


Michelangelo Pistoletto – La Celebrazione


Zhang Huan – L’Equilibrio


Yutaka Sone – L’Eleganza



About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space

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