Ruinart/Art Basel 2010

“Erotic Celebration” by Dane Storrusten. See more photos on Flickr


Ruinart, the renowned French champagne house of Reims, and Whitewall Magazine have teamed up to present some of the hottest contemporary art to be displayed at Art Basel Miami Beach in December 2010.

Dane Storrusten has been selected as one of ten artists representing major cities from all over the country, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Santa Fe; Storrusten represents Seattle, WA. Each artist was commissioned to create and donate a unique piece specifically for Ruinart in the artist’s individual style.

Storrusten’s piece titled “Erotic Celebration” was offered to Ruinart during a celebratory gala on November 3rd, thrown specifically to honor the artist’s contribution to the campaign. The event was held at a Seattle’s downtown gallery Ouch My Eye, where guests gathered to gaze at and pose with the thirteen‐foot high work of art (with stands), mingle and drink Ruinart champagne. Representatives of Ruinart distributor LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton SA John Santos and Shawna Anderson were in attendance to accept the piece on behalf of the champagne house.

Storrusten’s involvement began when Greg Reid, art enthusiast/representative, and founder of Seattle‐based sign and fabrication corporation Reid Signs, personally selected him. Reid was recruited by Anderson to help discover a
new and exciting, emerging artist from the indie‐cultured city to represent Ruinart’s brand initiatives: modern, exciting, fun and forward thinking.

Greg Reid of Reid Signs, well‐known for designing and executing beautifully crafted, three‐dimensional pieces in all mediums, played a major role in helping Storrusten design, fabricate, finish and install the final piece. The artwork consists of a whopping 10′ x 6′ canvas Giclée with lustrous clear coat; custom cut, milled, and polished acrylic layering; hand sculpted aluminum features and embedded lighting all on a beautiful Ruinart‐branded frame system.

All ten pieces will be featured in a pop‐up gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach from December 2‐5, 2010. “Erotic Celebration” then travels to New York where the public will be invited to bid on the unique piece at an auction to benefit the Museum of Arts & Design. The auction proceeds will go entirely toward the museum’s educational programs for emerging artists.

The Concept

Initially, Storrusten was informed a new piece was to be created “in the spirit of Ruinart”. After doing much background research on the Ruinart brand, Storrusten was pleasantly surprised by how innovative and forward-looking the company’s visual language and brand message given it’s tradition and age. The initial concept would be driven by Dom Ruinarts original vision, which was to leverage enthusiasm around champagne amongst the royal courts in Europe. Storrusten wanted to play on champagne being the international symbol for celebration, transcending all cultures, languages, and beliefs. He also intended to incorporate his exaggerated, energetic style to create almost a cubist inspired snapshot of the “micro-moment just after the cork is popped off the bottle”, depicting a variety of emotional expression using only the mouths of those celebrating a special event which would range from lustful and flirtatious, to pure enjoyment and excitement. The champagne would be billowing from the bottle and exploding beyond the bounds of the moment and time. Together, these ideas intended to bring a youthful, rebellious twinkle to the Ruinart legacy.

The Process

The process was rather new for Storrusten in that he wanted to find a way to take his exaggerated, energetic style to the next level by adding true dimension and a cinematic quality to the piece through embedded technology, making it a semi-sculpture where elements would be actively breaking the frame of the piece, loose shards of canvas seemingly floating in air adding elements of suspended belief. Storrusten’s rich experience in commercial and future product design were great tools in this process. Within the first day, Storrusten had his concept in mind and for the most part locked down. A couple sketches and quick color comps were created to convey and solidify the idea and it’s features. Storrusten immediately teamed with renowned designer and fabricator, Greg Reid of Reid Signs to consult on bringing this vision to life, but far beyond just fabrication. Storrusten and Reid brainstormed on various materials, the idea of layering components within the painting, how to get the piece to react to its environment. From there, Storrusten painted base textures at a large scale and digitized it. A combination of mixed mediums were then used including traditional drawing and painting along with digital painting. Once complete, a full scale Giclée print was made of the piece to accommodate three levels of layering that would have been impossible with just a single painted piece. The print was covered with a thick, lustrous clear coat for depth and preservation. Acrylic was then inlaid over the focal point elements, the bottle of champagne and champagne liquid billowing from it’s neck to create a glossy, reflective quality not possible with paint. It also became a vehicle for light to travel through which would create a subtle, yet dazzling sparkle effect that would change as viewers move around the piece. Strategic grooves were routed into the acrylic surface to create more dynamic “light play” and provide depth.  The acrylic was then custom cut, milled, and polished. Subtle lighting was then embedded into the bottle neck to push light through the foreground acrylic-covered elements to separate it from the background. Storrusten originally planned on having a reflective gold-leaf foil bearing the Ruinart R de Ruinart Brut brand to grace the bottle neck as a final dimensional element. Because the foil didn’t play well with the more industrial materials around it, Reid and team suggested a piece of aluminum that could be bent to mimic Storrusten’s intent to have torn, frayed foil jumping off the piece. This would be one of the more important elements as it beared the Ruinart brand.

As a final element, the broken shards of canvas needed to appear suspended in mid-air. Reid cut the framing in such away that the pieces has the same depth as the rest of the framing, while allowing Storrusten to hand place the pieces to match the original blueprint. The pieces were adhered to a thin, non-reflective plastic that was mounted to the back of the piece to help create the illusion of an explosion caught in paused time.

Reid also put a lot of extra time and effort into finessing the frame structure and back of the piece with hand sanding, custom Ruinart brand pattern engraved in the material as well as routed signatures for Storrusten and Reid. Reid’s reply to a question about the craftsmanship of the “unseen” areas of the piece was simply, “…we do it because we can.”