Each year, the Ruinart champagne house gives an artist carte blanche. For this occasion, Dutch artist Erwin Olaf was invited to offer his visual interpretation of the crayères–immense, cavernous chalk pits–in Reims, where Ruinart was founded in 1729. Turning his 35-year-old Hasselbad camera to the majestic beauty of the cellars, Olaf chose to concentrate on the details of their prehistoric natural formation and the traces left there by man.
The resulting black-and-white photographs also take inspiration from the work of Alphonse Mucha, who was the first artist to collaborate with the world’s oldest champagne house, in 1896. In the large-format, hardcover catalogue accompanying the series, entitled The Great Artist of Tomorrow, Olaf writes that “the distinct lines and curves of Mucha’s original drawing have the same likeness as the wall art found in the cellars.”
The works will travel to various international art fairs this year, and will be exhibited at the me Collectors Room in Berlin from April 27th until May 1st. To complete the gesamtkunstwerk, Olaf has reinterpreted the design of the Ruinart cellar-case, with Mucha-style engravings on chalk-coloured wood.
More information about Erwin Olaf’s collaboration with Ruinart: www.ruinart.com/en-uk/erwinolaf