‘How Wine Became Modern’

Wine is a potent force in contemporary life, perhaps the only comestible to produce its own visual culture. How Wine Became Modern, the first exhibition of its kind, looks at the world of wine and the role that architecture, design, and media have played in its stunning transformation over the past three decades. Developed in collaboration with the New York architecture studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the exhibition features historical artifacts, architectural models, multimedia installations, newly commissioned artworks, and even a “smell wall” to provide a richly textured experience in the galleries. Come discover how important cultural preoccupations of our day, such as the meaning of “place” and “authenticity” in our increasingly global and virtual world, play out at this uniquely fertile intersection of nature and culture. At once a nuanced investigation and a vivid sensory and aesthetic experience, this exhibition presents wine as you’ve never seen it before.

From November 20, 2010, to April 17, 2011, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now. This exhibition explores transformations in the visual and material culture of wine over the past three decades, offering a fresh way of understanding the contemporary culture of wine and the role that design has played in its transformation. Organized by Henry Urbach, SFMOMA’s Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, How Wine Became Modern marks the first exhibition to consider modern, global wine culture as an integrated yet expansive and richly textured set of cultural phenomena.


Modern Production

A small gallery juxtaposes Nicolas Boulard‘s sculpture Nuancier Finement Boisé, which depicts a chromatic spectrum across 11 bottles of white wine, and Mitch Epstein’s photograph of the Opus 1 winery laboratory with a large vitrine stuffed with a selection of products used to make wine today. An Ox-Box, used to accelerate the aging of wine in the barrel, and Mega-Purple, an additive used to make red wine darker, will be presented alongside packages of less controversial additives, including yeast, tannins, and oak beans. Quotations will help viewers situate these objects in the context of debates about how “natural” wine is or should be.

Terroir and Technique

A projection by Diller Scofidio + Renfro introduces “precision viticulture,” a contemporary way of imaging vineyards developed through a collaboration between Robert Mondavi and NASA in the 1990s. A large, suspended vine and rootstock, their graft line presented at eye level, will address the hybridization of American and European rootstock over centuries as well as the more contemporary practice of grafting to address consumer demand for new varietals. A second artwork by Nicolas Boulard presents, as if real, a 1946 vintage of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, a vintage that never existed because of an outbreak of phylloxera that year.


Picture: Peter Wegner, In [   ] Veritas, 2010; 216 in. x 1000 in.; paint (mural), graphic tape, vinyl lettering; installation detail; © Peter Wegner; Courtesy SFMOMA 2010

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  • Organização

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    non-for-profit association
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