Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Erwin Olaf’s “Light” series, composed of nine black and white photographs of Ruinart’s crayères (the chalk cellars sitting below the champagne house’s estate) were on view during FIAC at the Royal Monceau in the Art District Gallery.
For the occasion, the Royal Monceau-Raffles is offering a special “Suite Erwin Olaf” package that includes a special visit to the Crayères in Reims among other exclusivities.
Commissioned by Ruinart, the official champagne of both FIAC and Asia Now, the series is part of its renowned annual collaboration in the arts that entrusts free creative reign to a select artist.
Olaf was an audacious choice given the Dutch photographer’s usual baroque signature and taste for provocation. But for this assignment Olaf chose to tell the understated story of Ruinart’s crayères, the house’s old cellars in Reims, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
The black and white series Ruinart x Erwin Olaf “Light” illustrate the ancient art found in these caves, capturing the intricate details of their prehistoric natural formation and traces left by man.
Much of the series also references tacitly other works: notably Brassaï’s photography of Parisian graffiti in the 1930s but perhaps more importantly Alfonse Mucha’s depicted feminine curves. Mucha, the spearhead of Art Nouveau, was the first artist to collaborate with André Ruinart in 1896, 120 years ago.
“I saw this old 1930s graffiti still-life by Brassaï. It was a very good picture. I thought, ‘He has done this in the 1930s.’ Then I thought…‘I am allowed as the generation after him to stand on his shoulders and continue his legacy,’” Olaf said to Whitewall.
“Slowly, I started to discover that the pictures referenced abstract painting; there are references to the spots of Damien Hirst as much as the Caves of Lascaux, or the Zero movement of the ‘60s in Germany. I thought I have to accept that this is, and let it go,” he added.
Ruinart x Erwin Olaf: “Light” premiered in New York at AIPAD Photography Show at the Park Avenue Armory, followed by the Ruinart Oyster Bar at Frieze Masters, and since then toured to the Collectors Room during Gallery Weekend Berlin, or to the Collector’s Lounge at Art Basel among other important global art rendez-vous.