It is certainly not a mistake to say that wine is art, so long as it’s not an excuse for consuming it in excess, of course.
The inevitable parallel between the delicate titillation of the senses both when tasting a wine and when contemplating a work of art, whether a painting or another form, is interesting.
From touch to sight (the contemplation of its color and glints), to hearing (the convivial sounds that always mark the consumption of the ‘nectar of Bacchus’), wine as art becomes a harmonious encounter of sensory perceptions.
Artists – says the competent critic Vittorio Sgarbi – set about to interpret this dialogue in imagery, grasping its nuances in a language made of light, matter and color.
The history of wine as seen by art has its roots deep in time, and has inspired great artists who, through its allegorical significance, were able to communicate and reveal glimpses of society in the most common rituals and most unusual delights.
Torpor and unruliness, scenes of banquets, harvests and Roman triclinia, bunches of ripe grapes and scenes
of country life have been standard subjects for artists over the centuries.
The place and date of birth of wine, as an ‘object’ of distinction and wisdom are still shrouded in mystery
but we know that “…it was also consumed in vast quantities by the people and was among the insignia of kings and pharaohs”.
In fact, we find wine in the painting of the tomb of Nakht, which goes back two thousand years before Christ, but also in the ‘Home of the Centenarian’ in Pompei, where the owner of the house is depicted in the semblance of a Bacchus, draped in the fruit of the vines.
Even the devout Michelangelo Buonarroti, when in 1400 he sculpted his first profane figure, depicted the basic dualism of the enological topic in the goblet offered to the satyr almost as if to promise great wonders.
The most celebrated Bacchus, however, will forever be the one painted by a brilliant Caravaggio who rebelled against the artistic cannons that decreed that only human figures could communicate emotions.
Through his bland symbolism, he was able to convey not only the meanings hidden behind the key figure in the painting, but also all the bucolic elements of the chalice of wine consumed or offered.
The artistic representation of wine doesn’t end with Caravaggio but continues down the centuries passing through Impressionist art and Pseudo-realism to our own time, when it becomes the subject of murals and billboards in which humor is mixed with tradition and the sacred element of ritual where wine plays a
In contemporary art there seems to be a sort of desire to go back, in a pop key, to the symbolism communicated by Galileo in his statement: “Wine is a mixture of love and sunlight”.