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From the Picture Strip to the Complete Work of Art



Dorothee Bear-Bogenschütz ; Art historian, free journalist, "Vom Bildstreifen zum Gesamtkunstwerk," Wiesbaden, 1990

Heinz te Laake ,who had created his first wine label in 1969, continuing romantic ideas in his paintings, wanted more: For him, to bring together art and wine was not only a question of label.

In accordance with the idea of the synthesis of the arts, first postulated in the Romantic movement te Laake was of the opinion that the artist had to be given responsibility for the complete fashioning of the bottle. Off-set printing on the label was to be replaced by original printing.

More over, te Laake was toying with the idea of presenting the artistic visiting cards of the wines in a limited edition as original works of art. Mieke and Jan Teunen established contact with Balthasar Ress Wine Growing Estate. Until that time Stefan Ress, present owner of the estate, had intermittently had to do with art and had occasionally invited artists to the estate in the meantime Stefan Ress is an art collector. This year the tenth edition of artist labels will be commemorated.

Catherine Ress-Aubry, from Paris, by her education and artistic training, is particularly receptive to art: At the headword "artist label" she was the first keen of hearing. After all, the tradition had originated in France: The first artist to design a wine label was Philippe Julian; Baron Rothschild had commissioned him in 1945. Georges Braque, forerunner of cubism, designed the eleventh label in 1955, Pablo Picasso followed in 1973.

The creativity of these artists was restricted to a small strip on the label. Catherine and Stefan Ress commissioned Heinz te Laake to design their first artist label; they not only gave him the label to work on, but the whole bottle.

For the first time an artist was given the opportunity to work freely on the label, the type of printing, size and colour of cap. While Heinz te Laake's label, offered in a limited art edition, was a sensation in 1979, today artist labels are being widely imitated; the idea of the painter had doubtlessly kindled enthusiasm.

Elsewhere artists are asked to reduce their "most beautiful picture" to the size of the label; Catherine and Stefan Ress, however, have consequently pursued the idea of the synthesis of the arts; their labels are specifically fit to the shape of the bottles of the choice vintage wines.

In the meantime wine bottles are not only decorated two-dimensionally - Hungarian artist Imre Kocsis hung a three-dimensional "concrete," piece of art around the neck of the bottle.

Heinz te Laake is still working as artistic advisor, the post modern slogan for art work being "anything goes". The spectrum ranges from computer graphics to the three graces painted in the style of the old masters. What is missing is a sounding wine bottle. Would the Romantic idea of the synthesis of the arts only then be fully realised.
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