The oldest producer of sparkling wines in the Loire Valley, Ackerman, has established an artist in residency programme with Fontevraud Abbey. Underground historic sites are transformed by art, such as the work of Julien Salaud. House Ackerman won the gold medal in the 2019 Wine Tourism Awards in the "Art & culture" category. 

‘Bubbles are transient, emotions are eternal’, declared Jean-Baptiste Ackerman, who founded the oldest sparkling winery in the Loire Valley in 1811. In the pleasure and emotion of sparkling wines, Ackerman naturally associates with an art of living which is particular to the Loire Valley. That is why the famous Saumur brand has committed itself, since 2007, to supporting contemporary art. This can be seen, firstly, in L’eXplosition, an installation by the artist Yorga in the vast underground cellars, where an informative and entertaining scenographic display has been built for visitors.

A partnership that has led to the creation of an artwork which has transformed the vast underground cellars that are so characteristic of the Loire Valley, a region classified as a Unesco World Heritage site.

In 2015, Ackerman reached another stage in its artistic programme through a collaboration with the prestigious Fontevraud Abbey to jointly establish an artist in residency programme. This has led to the creation of an artwork which has transformed the vast underground cellars, that are so characteristic of the Loire Valley, a region classified as a Unesco World Heritage site.  

The labyrinthine underground cellars, a natural showcase for the display of monumental artworks

To inaugurate this concept, the selection panel of the artist in residency programme, gave the internationally acclaimed artist, Julien Salaud, the opportunity to create a massive artwork (60 m long, 5 m high!) built with 65,000 nails and 45 km of cotton thread. The Celestial River spreads out like a canopy of stars over the rocky walls of the Ackerman underground cellars. Light and fragile, it which merges with the whiteness of the sheer Tuffeau limestone walls. The effect is delicate, its lines boldly drawn and powerful. Overwhelmed by the immensity of the work, the eye gradually focuses on the patterns which appear. Then suddenly you are immersed in a river where wings, fins, froth and luminous beings mix together, hand in hand with the rock.

Vincent Mauger is the residence's second selected artist. Very active on the French art scene, he has decided to plunge into the history, light and atmosphere of this very unique monumental galleries of Maison Ackerman. When it comes to both art and wine alike, perfection is born from an alchemy between different elements. This is a temporary work of art, that will be on display for a duration of three years, starting on April 2016. He uses everyday material (glass, tiles, bricks, wood, PVC pipes…) to offer differ dimensions, and makes fun of the paradoxes between real life and virtual reality, landscape and architecture, drawings and huge works of art, traditional techniques and high tech, volume and lightness, materialization and dematerialization.He is both physically and mentally in tune with the exhibition areas, as he has established a genuine relationship with them. “I hardly intervene in the actual gallery. I don’t want to attack it full on, as I prefer a more strategic or tactical approach,” he explained. Vincent Mauger adds dimension to these creative places, with visibly assembled installations, boasting proliferating forms, inviting the spectator to continue to use his imagination.

In total, three different artists will exhibit at this historic site between 2015 and 2017, for a period of three years. Each new temporary artwork will be on show in the Ackerman cellars in the month of April each year.



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