Famous for his “photo paintings” of portraits, still-lifes, and landscapes, with their characteristic “blur”, German artist, Gerhard Richter (pictured, left) is a master of abstract style, a virtuoso who plays with all the possibilities offered by photography. Constantly seeking renewal, since 2011 Richter has developed a technique of painting under glass, which he calls Flux, that is both random and carefully controlled. He spreads enamel paint on a plate of plexiglass on which he then presses a glass plate, generating astonishing compositions. When the process reaches completion, he finally fixes the plates one on top of the other. Before that, however, he photographs the still fluctuating colours when he considers their composition to be momentarily harmonious. That is how he created the 2015 label of Château Mouton Rothschild.
Born in 1932, Richter bases his work on the dialectical relationship between painting and photography, representation and abstraction. His work for Mouton is the result of Flux. As a harmonious blend gives a great wine its balance and fullness, so the artist fixes moving colours in a photograph, taken at the ideal moment of their composition.
Château Mouton Rothschild Labels
Every year since 1945, the Château Mouton Rothschild label has been illustrated with an original artwork by a great contemporary painter. In 1924, to salute his first vintage bottled entirely at the château, Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902-1988), father of Baroness Philippine (1933-2014), asked the famous poster designer Jean Carlu to create the Mouton label. Ahead of its time, it remained an isolated initiative. In 1945, this time to celebrate the return of peace, Baron Philippe decided to crown the label for the vintage with the “V” for Victory, drawn by the young painter Philippe Jullian.
This exceptional circumstance marked the start of a tradition and, every year since 1946, a different artist has been invited to create an original artwork for the label. Initially, Baron Philippe chose painters from amongst his friends, such as Jean Hugo, Léonor Fini and Jean Cocteau. In 1955, Georges Braque agreed to illustrate the vintage; he was followed by the greatest artists of our time, including Dali, César, Miró, Chagall, Picasso,
Warhol, Soulages, Bacon, Balthus, Tàpies and Jeff Koons, forming a fascinating collection
to which a new work is added each year.
Mouton’s owners, now Camille and Philippe Sereys de Rothschild and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, have always been responsible for choosing the artists, respecting their artistic freedom, though many of them have been attracted by themes such as the vine, the pleasure of drinking or the ram, the Mouton emblem.
The artists receive no fee for their work but are given cases of Mouton Rothschild, including of course “their” vintage.
In 1981, on Baroness Philippine’s initiative, the collection gave rise to a travelling exhibition, “Mouton Rothschild, Paintings for the Labels”, shown in many museums around the world. It is now on permanent display at Mouton in the superb space created for it by Baroness Philippine in 2013, between the new vat house and the famous Museum of Wine in Art.