Les Arts de l’Effervescence – CHAMPAGNE !
Musée des Beaux Arts de Reims , 14 December 2012 – 26 May 2013
As Champagne bottles are opened all over the world, 370 works of art depicting champagne have been assembled from 85 international private and public lenders in an exhibition about champagne, in Champagne.
This premier exhibition “examines the relationship of the arts with celebration, luxury and publicity” Famous names such as Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfred Hitchock present the history of Champagne imaginatively from the first bubbles in the 17th century to today. Themes cover a range of artistic disciplines and periods: painting, decorative arts, design, architecture, cinema, advertising and publicity, literature, music, glass and accessories.
A tour in four parts through history and styles exposes changes in fashion of how to serve, drink and enjoy Champagne. Art de vivre, cultural myths and legends show how Champagne developed the Arts through promotional appropriation, via the surreal and abstract to contemporary movements.
Part 1 Champagne and Aristocracy: From Reality to Myth
Prestigious clients for Champagne developed as aristocratic nobility married into Champagne families, from the Regent period to Marie Antoinette era at the end of the seventeenth century. Champagne became rare, expensive, and a symbol of aristocratic life reserved for the elite. Champagne portrayed luxury such as in commissions from Louis XV in 1735 for paintings by Jean-Francois de Troy and Nicolas Lancret for the Chateau of Versailles. Crystal glassware for drinking Champagne, and architecture on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay and La Butte Saint Nicaise in Reims reflected aristocracy.
Part 2 Ivresse La Fete
Champagne was the nineteenth century symbol of party and joy, effervescence and decadence. The exhibition identifies the second Empire with images of entertainment, frivoloity, vanity and seduction, depicting festive and fashionable restaurants, cafés, concerts and cabarets in Paris. Artists and writers found new inspiration in the effervescence of Champagne. “Les Dixeuses” cabaret singers became the models for Mucha posters, creating advertising and publicity for Champagne.
Part 3 Art Nouveau and Art Deco
Modernity arrived at the end of the nineteenth century. Commercial and industrial production of Champagne was shown in spectacular fashion at the World Fairs in 1889, 1900, 1925 and 1937.
Champagne houses sought graphic brand images through artists Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard and Mucha, and embraced the curves of Art Nouveau as an aesthetic match with bubbles. In 1990 Henri Vasnier, Director of Champagne Pommery commissioned Emile Gallé to create a dining room in Reims with poetic symbols of grapevines.
Champagne Mercier made the first cinematic publicity in 1995 with the Lumiere brothers “Vie d’une bouteille de Champagne depuis la grape jusqu’a la coupe”. Champagne stars in Charlie Chaplin’s “A Night Out” film of 1915, and Alfred Hitchcock’s first film in 1928 was called “Champagne”. The energy of bubbles painted by Severini in“La Danse du Pan Pan” in 1922 during the Italian Futurist movement.
The movement of bubbles was also captured by photography, and access to Champagne was democratized through reproductions. Until then interest was only in the display of bubbles depicted in 18th and 19th century paintings, not on a brand.
After 1918, Reims was restored during the Art Deco era with symbolic designs in the Cathedrals and Town Hall.
Part 4 Avant Garde 20th Century Champagne
Destabilized by war and chaos, art became a metaphor of resurrection for artists. 1920s symbols were synonymous with luxury, parties and decadence.
Picasso made a series of prints in 1933 depicting Bacchus and Minotaures drinking Champagne. From 1945 Surrealist and Abstract artists incarnated Champagne as a symbol of peace, rebirth and optimism. Turning to humour for the millennium, Marteen Baas deconstructs the heritage of Champagne with a table setting reminiscent of Dali with a melting Murano glass chandelier and bottles of Champagne.