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SFMOMA: How Wine Became Modern

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Earlier this week I attended the press preview for "How Wine Became Modern," opening at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Saturday, November 20. The hard-to-define exhibition spans many disciplines and mediums, exploring transformations in the visual and material culture of wine over the past three decades, paying special attention to the role that design has played in its transformation. There are galleries dedicated to terroir, to winery design, to little-discussed additives used in the wine-making process, to art inspired by wine and grapes. The underlying question, according to curator Henry Urbach: "What's all the fuss about wine? How has it gone from something agricultural and comestible to being a cultural position?" Here's a glimpse inside the exhibition. Check back soon for an interview with Urbach, posted by associate editor Miyoko Ohtake.

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  At the entrance to the exhibition is Peter Wegner's mural 'Veritas,' which charts over 200 paint colors named after wine and grapes, from Bacchus to Grapety Grape.
    At the entrance to the exhibition is Peter Wegner's mural 'Veritas,' which charts over 200 paint colors named after wine and grapes, from Bacchus to Grapety Grape.
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  The next gallery contains a floor-to-ceiling mural depicting the 1976 'Judgment of Paris,' during which nine French wine experts held a blind taste test and pronounced a number of northern California wines superior to esteemed French vintages. Image courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
    The next gallery contains a floor-to-ceiling mural depicting the 1976 'Judgment of Paris,' during which nine French wine experts held a blind taste test and pronounced a number of northern California wines superior to esteemed French vintages. Image courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
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  In another gallery, a map shows where some of the coolest winery architecture resides.
    In another gallery, a map shows where some of the coolest winery architecture resides.
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  Among the ranking wine architecture is this tasting pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid. R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, 2006. Photo by Pepe Franco, courtesy of Viña Tondonia.
    Among the ranking wine architecture is this tasting pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid. R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, 2006. Photo by Pepe Franco, courtesy of Viña Tondonia.
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  Here's the interior of the Hadid-designed tasting pavilion.
    Here's the interior of the Hadid-designed tasting pavilion.
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  This is the Frank O. Gehry-designed Hotel Marqués de Riscal, 2006. Image courtesy Hotel Marqués de Riscal.
    This is the Frank O. Gehry-designed Hotel Marqués de Riscal, 2006. Image courtesy Hotel Marqués de Riscal.
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  Here's Steven Holl Architects' Loisium Hotel, 2003. Image: Lucas Wasserman.
    Here's Steven Holl Architects' Loisium Hotel, 2003. Image: Lucas Wasserman.
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  A full grape vine holds court on a gallery wall, roots and all, as if to remind us of the down-to-earth source of all the wine fuss.
    A full grape vine holds court on a gallery wall, roots and all, as if to remind us of the down-to-earth source of all the wine fuss.
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  Adjacent is the Wine Label Gallery, an assemblage of high-design wine bottle labels organized by theme, from 'Animals' to 'Weather.'
    Adjacent is the Wine Label Gallery, an assemblage of high-design wine bottle labels organized by theme, from 'Animals' to 'Weather.'
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  This root-like decanter, Carafe No. 5, is by Etienne Meneau, designed in 2008, fabricated in 2009.
    This root-like decanter, Carafe No. 5, is by Etienne Meneau, designed in 2008, fabricated in 2009.
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  Additional decanters by Meneau on display.
    Additional decanters by Meneau on display.
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  Compiled in a display case are a bevy of wine culture ephemera, from 'Wine Diet' books to Japanese manga glorifying wine, such as this page from the 'Kami no Shizuku (Drops of God)' series, 2004-ongoing. Copyright Tadashi Agi/Shu Okimoto/Kodansha Ltd.
    Compiled in a display case are a bevy of wine culture ephemera, from 'Wine Diet' books to Japanese manga glorifying wine, such as this page from the 'Kami no Shizuku (Drops of God)' series, 2004-ongoing. Copyright Tadashi Agi/Shu Okimoto/Kodansha Ltd.
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  The exhibition also includes new media, including video excerpts from movies and mass media and 'SPILL,' a 2009 video by Dennis Adams. Image courtesy the artist, Kent Gallery New York, and Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie Paris. Photo by David Hurst.
    The exhibition also includes new media, including video excerpts from movies and mass media and 'SPILL,' a 2009 video by Dennis Adams. Image courtesy the artist, Kent Gallery New York, and Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie Paris. Photo by David Hurst.

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