Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fruits of the Vineyard


Tom Shannon’s 2009 sculpture Drop reflects 
Château La Coste’s sprawling landscape.

An ancient French vineyard is reborn as a site for permanent art installations and modern architecture

For decades, the ancient vineyard of Château La Coste, located on a rolling 600-acre plain near Aix-en-Provence, was a sleeping beauty waiting to be brought to life. Once the center of a major wine-producing region cultivated as early as the Roman times, and a rest stop for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the property had seen far better days when Irish real-estate developer and art collector Paddy McKillen purchased it in 2002. Convinced that wine-making is “a noble task,” McKillen resolved to restructure the vineyards and to introduce the latest biodynamic standards for their cultivation. At the same time, he realized that La Coste would be a wonderful setting for art.

With that in mind, he invited leading architects and artists to come to La Coste and propose projects that could be realized on its historic terrain. Today, five Pritzker Prize winners and a score of sculptors have left their marks there. With Aix (2008), for example, Richard Serra inserted vast sheets of steel into a hillside at varying angles, like skewed steps. Sean Scully’s signature geometries are realized in the myriad cuts and colors of stone that make up his Wall of Light Cubed from 2007. And Franz West accented the vineyard’s promenade with his bright yellow Faux-Pas (2006), a kind of phallic totem that straddles the line between sculpture and furniture.

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