Some art has gotten too big to hang on a wall. Perhpas due to a new feeling for nature, some artists prefer the countryside to the city for the display of their works, and fields are becoming populated with masterpieces. This is “Landscape Art“, a “field” (pun intended) in which landscape architects and sculptors interact in the invention of new spaces for display that transform our vision of nature and artefice.

Tuscany, with its soft rolling hills, is a perfect frame for contemporary art. Projects include the Parco di Celle near Pistoia that belongs to the major international collector Giuliano Gori; the Chianti sculpture park (www.chiantisculpturepark.it); a redesigned woods at the “Ragnaia” at San Giovanni d’Asso by Sheppard Craige; and now the Casato Prime Donne’s “Trekking d’Autore”, works placed amongst the Brunello vines in the Crete Senesi.

Maybe one of the first works of this sort in Tuscany is the 1993 installation by sculptor Jean Paul Philippe, who chose the Crete Senesi (between Siena and Asciano) as the location for his work Site Transitoire. The landscape’s natural linearity was thus interruped by a work that both alters it and gives it value, points at its individuality. The work’s seven massive stones dialogue amongst themselves and frame the hills that they inhabit. www.jeanpaulphilippe.eu

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a big metal circle frame the landscape just outside the town of Volterra; this is by Mauro Staccioli and there are other works by him on display nearby. It’d be worth it to go find all the pieces, which are on display until September 2010.

Amongst Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s Brunello di Montalcino vines, the “Trekking d’autore” project invites visitors on a meditative walk punctuated by art. Each site is dedicated to a woman who has won the Premio Casato Prime Donne prize for a major contribution in the field in which she works, including author Frances Mayes, dancer Carla Fracci, human rights celebrant Kerry Kennedy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American writer Jeff Shapiro makes his viewers ponder, via four “speaking stones”, the following questions:  “See what’s growing… See in order to grow… Do you see?… And are you growing?” – important questions that relate the viewer’s personal growth to the land upon which they are standing. Marco Pignattai refers to this land and its working by cattle with a life-size metal cut-out of the chianina cow who pulls antique farm equipment across the fields (see photo above). At a high point in the landscape, Rossana Mulinari recalls her solo pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostela with the installation of a wooden cross covered with mirrors and held up by six blocks of travertine marble.

Closer to the cantina, or cellar building, the artworks exalt the female nature of this enterprise – the only entirely female-run wine producer in Italy. Eight doves by the sculptor Orlando Orlandini are clearly a symbol of peace, while four photographic portraits by Bruno Bruchi and Giovanni Senatore record four very different but contemporary women including a grandmother who is making pinci, the typical pasta of Montalcino. The Cinelli Colombini estate is open to visitors; the wine cellar (for tasting etc) weekdays 9-13 and 14-18 or weekends upon request. The art trekking area is open to everyone during operating hours, year-round. They’re very happy to welcome you and they speak good English!

The connection between wine and landscape art has inspired some other producers as well. Outside of Tuscany the most stunning example is the integration of modern architecture and natural views at Ceretto (Alba, CN – www.ceretto.it ), whose vineyards host a colourful chapel by David Tremlett and Sol LeWitt, as well as a futuristic glass bubble in which you can taste wine and enjoy cultural events.

Landscape art offers a new venue for self-discovery, as well as for discovery of the landscape itself, which on its own may not always provide sufficient stimulus for reflection or photography.

This article is a the result of a collaboration: I’d like to thank Alessia Bianchi and Violante Gardini of Cinelli Colombini estates for providing the great idea and much of the content.

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