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Baz Luhrmann + Dustin Yellin Create Ruinart Champagne-Inspired Works

How a journal from 1831 influenced two acclaimed artists

by David Graver
on 28 October 2015

Among champagne experts, Ruinart is known as the Parisian's drink of choice. The reason for this extends beyond their extensive history and iconic underground caves and pertains more to thoughtful effervescence and reliable, luxuriant flavor profiles. It's one portion of their history, however, that stood as inspiration for two pieces of work (commissioned by Ruinart) that were revealed last night at the private studio of artist Dustin Yellin. Within, Yellin unveiled a new layered sculptural wonder, which he refers to as a psychogeography. And this time, beyond portraying a character or scene frozen in time, his mixed-media diorama told a story.

Shortly after the piece was revealed, Broadway actor Brandon Dirden delivered another first: a one-off performance of a Baz Luhrmann-directed monologue, which Luhrmann wrote with his wife, Academy Award-winning costume designer Catherine Martin. It was a tale of champagne, sharks and an American president, delivered with fervor to guests sat around one long table—and it's unlikely that it will ever be performed again. Its source material happens to be same referenced by Yellin.

In 1831, Edmond Ruinart, of the acclaimed house's third generation, visited the United States to tackle the American champagne market. He chronicled his adventures—from dangerous encounters on the sea voyage over, to his time in Brooklyn and even a visit with President Andrew Jackson in Washington, DC—in a journal. The journal has been kept in the Ruinart archives for centuries, but was presented to both artists for perusing. According to Jean-Christophe Laizeau, Ruinart's International Communication Director, "The history of Ruinart is probably one of the most important assets we have to remember. All of the members of this family were real pioneers. Edmond was when he decided to leave France for the US. At this time, it was a forward-thinking idea and we decided to pay him a tribute."

On the surface, it's valuable to the artistic community when prestige brands offer support to create new works. And while Luhrmann and Martin's piece may never been seen again, Yellin's untitled work will be on display at the Salon Art + Design from 12 through 16 November 2015.

Lead image by David Graver, other images by Joe Schildhorn, BFA

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