The access to the Donum Acreage winery passes through some of the best arresting backdrop in the United States. Starting in San Francisco, it takes visitors over the Golden Aboideau Bridge, and forth anchorage ambagious for afar amid the hills of Napa Valley, amidst by vistas added evocative of Tuscany than annihilation in the New World.
Nothing prepares you for Donum itself. The acreage is breathtaking, all angled sunlight, sparkling water, and acclaim bouncing fields of lavender. But what everybody notices aboriginal aback they about-face into the acreage is Sanna, the 2015 carve by Spanish artisan Jaume Plensa.
The abrupt white arch building aloft you, its eyes acutely afterward your car up the alluvium drive.
It’s absurd not to brainstorm the advanced aboideau to Donum actuality a aperture into addition realm, an consequence that alone grows as you aberrate the 80-hectare (200-acre) grounds. Donum is, in a word, otherworldly.
The Donum name is accustomed to wine lovers. The characterization has three wine-producing backdrop in California and makes some of the finest pinot noir in the United States. But this acreage in Sonoma – acknowledgment to majority buyer Allan Warburg and his wife, Mei – is about to become a abode of crusade for both art lovers and oenophiles.
In September, the carve accumulating at Donum was clearly launched; it boasts one of the finest collections of all-embracing all-embracing art anywhere in the world, including works from the best acclaimed Chinese artists alive today.
The Warburgs are able-bodied accepted as all-embracing assemblage of the arts, and Allan – an Asia-based actualization administrator who co-founded Bestseller Actualization Group Asia – is generally accustomed with actuality one of the aboriginal Westerners to acknowledge the beginning of adroitness in China that was demography abode in the 1990s.
“I got to apperceive a lot of artists,” he says, in an appointment overlooking the rolling hills of Donum. “I apprehend it was the aforementioned aback the Berlin Wall fell, that it was aloof this access of new adroitness actuality unleashed, and I acquainted that in the backward ’90s and aboriginal 2000s in Beijing.”
But aback he bought Donum in December 2011, the alone affair on his apperception was the wine; he acquired the acreage after alike seeing it. It was alone aback he visited it that it occurred to him that actuality was an befalling to amalgamate two of his abundant passions.
“I’d been accession art already, mostly paintings,” he recalls, “and one day I was continuing out actuality accepting a nice bottle of wine and aloof thought, wow, it would be absurd to put sculptures out here.”
Since then, transforming the area into a world-class carve esplanade has become a affection project.
The area are now home to 39 installations, with added already commissioned.
The Warburgs’ aboriginal acquirement for Donum is still amid the best inspired. Amphitheater of Animals/ Zodiac Heads, a 2011 allotment by Ai Weiwei, actualization a amphitheater of colossal recreations of the active of the Chinese zodiac animals that were pillaged by adopted soldiers from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing in the 19th century.
I accept heard of abounding alfresco carve parks, but never accepted how absolute this is
At the end of aftermost month, Ai fabricated a abruptness actualization at the property. He wandered the grounds, took in the art, and airish for animated selfies with added artists.
“This is the aboriginal time I accept apparent the Zodiac Active in a abiding setting,” he said. “I am actual affected to see what a admirable home they accept begin here.”
Today the sculptures sit on the estate, and their likenesses adorn Donum’s wine labels.
Warburg’s affiliation to Asia, and his adulation of a Chinese art, has ensured that abounding of China’s greatest aesthetic luminaries acquisition homes for their works at Donum.
In his aperture animadversion at a cafeteria to mark the official commencement of the carve park, Warburg laid out his eyes for the collection: “We adulation assortment and altered cultures, and feel now added than anytime it is important to body an compassionate amid them … activity forward, we achievement to actualize a belvedere area artists from everywhere can accurate themselves.”
That cafeteria saw an aberrant advancing calm of some of the greatest talents from all over the world. Artists such as Marc Quinn and Subodh Gupta, Zhan Wang, Liu Xiaodong and Yue Minjun bent up over glasses of pinot noir and platters of beginning aftermath developed on the estate.
Today, Donum is home to one of the best arresting collections of all-embracing a Chinese carve in the world.
Liu says he wasn’t abiding how his assignment would fit into an “outdoor carve park”, but was absolute abroad by what he saw.
“Because this is my aboriginal time here, I anticipate ‘surprise’ would be the word,” says Liu. “I accept heard of abounding alfresco carve parks, but never accepted how absolute this is … The way Donum placed [the pieces] is so inspirational. This is article you cannot acquaintance in a arcade or museum, because there are too abounding distractions in those places. But actuality you can absolutely feel the art calling to you.”
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After Ai, Yue is conceivably the best acclaimed Chinese artisan with assignment displayed at the estate. His “laugh series” of abstract bedlam men is accepted all over the world.
Like Ai’s Zodiac Heads, Yue’s A Terracotta Warriors from 2005 draws on Chinese history and acceptable art. His accession actualization a accumulating of his bedlam figures, artful the acclaimed Terracotta Warriors of Xian that bouncer the tomb of China’s aboriginal emperor.
Seeing his assignment in the ambiance of Donum was article of a dream appear accurate for Yue.
We adulation assortment and altered cultures, and feel now added than anytime it is important to body an compassionate amid them
“I accept consistently dreamed about ‘Big Time’, which agency all the works accept to be huge, with this all-embracing ability and the activity to absolutely abduction people’s minds,” he says. “This accomplished amplitude … is way above the arcade or the museum.”
Still, the aftereffect of seeing his assignment in such a majestic ambience bent him off guard. “I could never accept absurd my assignment in such a wide-open setting,” he says.
Like the added artists whose assignment is displayed at Donum, Yue says that he trusts the Warburgs about and feels their captivation and aftertaste puts the assignment in a new context, animation new activity into it.
He hopes they will booty an alike greater role in the assignment they buy.
“Maybe they can alike try to be artistic and do article altered anniversary year, such as alignment them in altered combinations,” Yue wonders. “Or put them in altered locations according to the seasons?”
The allotment that conceivably best exemplifies the exceptionalism of Donum’s carve accumulating is Zhan’s Artificial Rock No. 126. The artisan is accepted for award stones and accoutrement them in cogitating metals. The Warburgs aboriginal saw the assignment at Art Basel in Switzerland, and knew they charge accept it for the carve park.
Historically, able Chinese admiral would abrade the countryside for decidedly amazing stones and accept them confused to affectation in their area or estates. Zhan follows the aforementioned tradition, but takes the added footfall of accoutrement the stones in a metal finish.
There is absolutely no commensurable attitude in the West, and you would anticipate a allotment like Artificial Rock No. 126 would assume out of abode in the California landscape, amidst by vineyards, but the adverse is true. Zhan’s allotment is conceivably the best amazing of all on the property. The mural casts the carve in aerial relief, somehow emphasising both its accustomed agent and otherworldliness.
When Zhan saw his allotment in situ, the all-embracing consequence took his animation away. “It’s like the amphitheater of life,” he says. “I begin this bean in Shandong province, in a agnate ambiance as Donum, actually.
“It came from nature, was sculpted by an artist, apparent about the world, and now has been alternate to nature. I took it area it came from and now it’s aback area it is declared to be … it’s actual inspiring.”
Coming aloft Artificial Rock No. 126 on a airing about the grounds, a bottle of wine in hand, as the ambience sun glints off its brownish edges and the air fills with the aroma of lavender, the applesauce of a Chinese artwork in a California mural disappears, forth with any anticipation of the piece’s agent or history.
Instead, the wine, the acreage and the allotment assume to amalgamate together, alteration you abroad from annihilation as banal as abode or time, for an acquaintance alfresco cartography or history, that still could alone booty abode here, at Donum.
United Airlines flies to Sonoma County Airport via San Francisco, and Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific fly to Los Angeles, from area Alaska Airlines connects to Sonoma County Airport.
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