Ruinart Champagne, Erwin Olaf and Art Basel

Ruinart Bringing Art and Champagne Closer Together

Ruinart Champagne, Erwin Olaf and Art Basel

Every year, the champagne house Maison Ruinart selects an artist with whom they collaborate to produce artistic works which are exhibited at key exhibitions around the world, and in Switzerland at Art Basel. The artist has free rein to interpret as they wish and this year Ruinart chose the Dutch photographer and artist, Erwin Olaf.


Erwin Olaf Ruinart photography
Erwin journeyed to Reims to visit the amazing crayères, or chalk pits, which are a listed UNESCO World Heritage site to get inspiration. He was fascinated by these natural formations which have been used for centuries by Ruinart to allow their champagnes to rest and mature. The crayères are located deep down in the earth and as you descend the many steps it’s like entering another world.


les crayeures de ruinart reims

Les crayeres de Ruinart

These chalky pits are full of character. They are amazingly tall and spacious and extremely impressive. As a result of his visit he created a series of bold, rugged and strong pictures, which were his interpretation of his experience of the crayères. When we visited the crayères last week, Erwin took us on a tour to revisit the source of his inspiration and to explain the key influences which had impressed him in these natural prehistoric formations.


les crayeres de ruinart reims

Photo courtesy of  Ruinart

Erwin Olaf’s photography is often in colour but for this work for Ruinart, he produced the images in black and white. Using his trusty Hasselblad camera he managed to give them a special luminous effect which really makes them stand out. As he aptly noted “Photos like champagne need darkness to find light”.

Erwin Olaf art Ruinart champagne

Photo courtesy of  Ruinart

As a result of the impressions that Erwin experienced in the crayères, he created a collection of 26 individual and unique pieces of art which reflect the passage of time and the human impact on the creation of champagne.

Erwin Olaf's Ruinart photography

Photo courtesy of  Ruinart

So what is Ruinart’s connection with art? It goes back to 1896 when André Ruinart commissioned the Czech artist, Alfons Mucha, to create a poster advertising Ruinart. Ever since, Ruinart has worked with a number of artists and designers including Hubert le Gall, Georgia Russell, Maarten Baas, India Mahdavi, Gideon Rubin and Hervé Van der Straeten.

Nicolas Ruinart

Photo courtesy of  Ruinart

The House of Ruinart, is in fact the oldest champagne House in the world and was established in 1729 by a Reims draper, Nicolas Ruinart, nephew of Dom Ruinart. The connection between art and champagne remains strong and the art collaborations can be seen all over the world. To view where Erwin’s art will be on display click here.

In 2014 Ruinart established a collaboration with Scottish artist Georgia Russell who created an impressive sculpture – (read more about it here) – and last year they worked with Hubert Le Gall – (read more about it here) – who created some beautiful pieces of art made of coloured glass. In each case the art is directly inspired by the creation of champagne.

The crayères at Ruinart are absolutely fascinating to visit and there is plenty more to see at Maison Runiart. If you are planning a visit to Reims you might be interested to know that it is possible for members of the public to book a tour of the crayères which include a guided tasting of two cuvées of your choice –  the Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Ruinart Rosé or the Dom Ruinart or Dom Ruinart Rosé cuvées. Please see here for details and book your visit at least three weeks in advance.

For more information on Ruinart Champagnes please visit the website.

Erwin Olaf’s photographs will be exhibited at Art Basel in Switzerland from 16th – 19th June 2016.

Ruinart champagnes




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