Driving through the landscape in Chianti is just like the books. You pass vineyards, rolling hills, and bicyclers. Even if you are driving on point, it feels like you are lost (in a good way). Finally, at the top of a hill and the end of the dirt road, we came to a few medieval buildings and very quiet stone paths. This is Ama, a small borgo in Chianti, Italy that is 500 meters above the sea. It is home of Castello di Ama, a winery with an incredible art collection. You can visit the art collection by booking a spot on one of the group tours, which ends with a wine tasting. Our tour was in English, included four other adults, and began at the most picturesque terrace. While we walked around the winery, the guide introduced fourteen of the artworks in the permanent collection.
Lorenza and Marco Pallanti commissioned each artwork for their property. The artists visit Castello di Ama and make new work for sites they choose, including the cellars, chapels, or gardens. This permanent collection includes Michelangelo Pistoletto, Daniel Buren, Giulio Paolini, Kendell Geers, Anish Kapoor, Chen Zhen, Carlos Garaicoa, Nedko Solakov, Cristina Iglesias, Louise Bourgeouis, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Hiroshi Sugimoto, & Lee Ufan.
Philip Larratt-Smith, the current curator, told Wallpaper Magazine, “It is also crucial to view art not in an institutional setting but in nature, where your brain is thinking in a different way and you look at art in a different way.” The wine, the art, and the tranquil setting made Castello di Ama a place of my dreams.
The tour that twists and turns through the old buildings. More than once, you pass over Pascale Marthine Tayou’s artwork “The Way to Happiness.” The adults notice the scattering of painted stones, but my children are drawn to them. They jump from color to color oblivious of me asking them to slow down. In the catalog essay on the work, the writer concludes with “there is still time to enchant the world.” The colors are begging you to find more joy in your journey.
At the beginning of the tour, we walked down to the modern cellar where Chen Zhen’s “The Light Inside the Human Body” lights up the dark rows of barrels. In an interview about the piece (before he died in 2000), Zhen discusses his perspective of making art for a specific context. He compares the most exciting moment in his creative process to the “short circuit” phenomenon in electricity, when two opposites on the same circuit create a “shocking” or “destructive” power.
Installed in the gardens, Daniel Buren and the Kabakov’s both make art installations that take advantage of the view. Daniel Buren’s mirrored sculpture is a direct reference to the tradition of landscape painting, while Ilya & Emilia Kabakov considers narrative and the people in the community. The last part of the tour goes into the ancient cellars. Inside one of the arched chambers, you can peer down a dark well to find a sculpture by Louise Bourgeois from 2009.
In order for this post not to be so so long, I’m writing about the site-specific artworks by Anish Kapoor, Carlos Garaicoa, and Hiroshi Sugimoto separately. Those posts will be up soon. My children enjoyed the tour. It moved at a good pace for all of us. The variety of locations (underground, outside, in a chapel, etc.) also kept their attention. The small size of the tour enabled them listen to the guide and to see the artwork. The guide was very patient and flexible with us. During the wine tasting, my children sat on the terrace drawing and snacking. I would love to visit Castello di Ama again and see the newest addition by Lee Ufan.