Wine and Art Through the Years

A Chicago exhibit highlights the myriad ways wine has inspired artists, craftsmen and lovers of the good life.

While it's what's in the bottle that counts, a bejeweled, historical chalice can sometimes do wonders for even the most ordinary of table wines. In A Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today, a show running through September 20 at the Art Institute of Chicago, the myriad, often elaborately designed wine vessels created throughout history are on view: from the broad shallow bowls of antiquity and chalices used in Catholic and Anglican Eucharistic celebrations to over-the-top glass pieces by the contemporary master, Jay Musler. The exhibit, which encompasses over 400 items, highlights the aesthetic aspect of wine and showcases the ways the beverage has inspired craftsmen, writers and artists over the years. In addition to the vessels, there are numerous prints, photographs and paintings, ranging from a 17th- century still life by Pieter Claesz to Werner Bischof's shot of working men sitting around a table littered with bottles and glasses. And of course, Bacchus—and his predecessor, Dionysus—are amply represented. Whether riding a donkey, getting amorous with Ariadne (in a pen and ink drawing by Raymond de Lafage), or holding his liquor amid tipsy revelers in an engraving by Andrea Mantegna, the gift-giving god is always a figure teetering on the edge of ecstatic release.



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