Chateau Mouton Rothschild has announced that the label for their 2010 vintage has been designed by American artist and sculptor Jeff Koons. Koons is often compared to Andy Warhol and is a brilliant artist-provocateur with his contemporary Pop Art works being hailed as controversial, pioneering and influential. His art focuses on transforming familiar objects into high art through a variety of techniques and media.
Koons’ work sells for substantial sums of money including at least one world record auction price for a work by a living artist. The largest sum known to be paid for a work by Koons is Tulips which was sold for over 33 million US dollars (£21,219,975) at Christie’s New York on November 14th this year.
Koons designed the BMW Art Car in 2010. This was the 17th in the series of BMW Art Cars and was applied to a race-spec E92 BMW M3. The car competed at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, driven by Dirk Muller, Andy Priaulx and Dirk Werner. He has also designed a yacht for Greek billionaire Dakis Joannou which is ‘camouflaged’ in colourful angular shapes and abstract dotted patterns and the inflatable lips for the Rolling Stones 2003 LICKS world tour.
Koon’s label for 2010 Chateau Mouton Rothschild uses a Roman fresco with what the wine press are describing as ‘a silver line drawing of a ship sailing under a bright sun.’ It’s not quite how I would describe it . . . Has anyone actually looked at the label? Koon’s has used this motif before in his Antiquity series in which he explores antique art and Eros (Greek god of sexual desire).
Koon’s label uses the 1st Century Roman fresco of The Birth of Venus from the wall of the House of Venus in Pompeii. The fresco is thought to have been a copy of a famous long lost painting by Apelles. Alexander the Great’s mistress, Campaspe, was supposedly the model for Venus. The scallop shell, which is often seen in paintings of the birth of Venus, is a symbol of the female vulva.
“About the drawing . . . Many years ago, I did a project with Muhammad Ali. We had to sign this book; some 10.000 sheets of paper. And sometimes when I would open a box with pages he had signed – which I had to sign next – I found these beautiful drawings he had made for me. The drawing I made here is reminiscent of the drawings Ali made. You have a sun, a cloud, some birds, a boat on the water. It’s a symbol of mother nature, really.”
Koons is renowned for being ambiguous nd his way of explaining his own art is difficult to take seriously. What critics agree on is that it shouldn’t be taken at face value. My take on Mouton’s new label is that Koons is marrying the seductiveness of a great wine with human desire and pleasure. Sexual pleasure is a common theme in Koons’ work – he was famously married to the Hungarian porn star and Italian politician La Cicciolina and his Made in Heaven series graphically depicts the couple lovemaking.
With Mouton Rothschild courting the American market for the 2010 vintage it seems to be boldly taking a more risqué approach in more ways than one. With the USA being disenchanted by high prices for the 2009 and 2010 vintages perhaps a little seductiveness in the labelling will add sugar to a bitter pill?