Virtually every artist included in this exhibition used wine as both a stimulus and a source of inspiration for his or her work, invariably following in the footsteps of earlier masters. Without a doubt, the best-known picture depicting wine consumption is Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, which was the foundation for Brigitte Riesebrodt’s 2007 painting Leonardo’s Last Supper. Among the most famous wine-themed works from the 19th century are Édouard Manet’s Bar at the Folies Bergére and a variety of still-life paintings by artists such of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne, which owe a significant debt to the 17th-century Dutch still-life tradition. This influence carries well into the 20th-century with artists such as Giorgio Morandi. But perhaps it is Renzo Piano’s design for the Art Institute’s Modern Wing that reaches furthest back in time: the “flying carpet” roof has its precedent in the grape arbors of ancient Egypt, and hence it makes a truly vintage case for wine.

Christopher Monkhouse
Eloise W. Martin Curator of European Decorative Arts

Giorgio Morandi. Still Life, 1955. Harold L. Stuart Endowment.