October 11, 2018



The architecture and scenic design of La Cité du Vin are the fruit of a close partnership between two firms: Parisian architects XTU and English museum design experts Casson Mann. Their project – which combines a bold, poetic interpretation of the spirit and intangible cultural power of wine with a raft of immersive digital technologies – wowed the judging panel during the call for tenders launched by commissioning authority the City of Bordeaux in late 2010. This tender procedure required candidates to form architect-designer partnerships to ensure that the structure and its content were part of a single, cohesive project. A total of 114 submissions were received, 5 projects were short-listed and 1 winner was ultimately chosen: XTU and Casson Mann, in association with Canadian engineering form SNC Lavalin. GTM Bâtiment Aquitaine, a subsidiary of Vinci Construction France, was then selected as the project’s designated construction partner.
The architects from Parisian agency XTU, Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, have imagined a structure replete with symbolic echoes: the swirl of wine moving in a glass, the coiled movement of a grapevine, the ebb and flow of the Garonne... Their design captures the spirit of wine and its fluid essence: ‘a seamless curve, intangible and sensual’ (XTU Architects) which addresses its multiple environment. Horizontal and vertical lines are linked in a unique continuous motion growing out of the soil along a large boardwalk ramp. More a movement than a shape, it releases and reveals itself as it rises, creating an event amid the landscape that connects with the bridge and river.
This curve, matching the curve of the Garonne, is also reflected in the interior volumes, spaces and materials. La Cité du Vin houses a major space in the shape of the permanent tour on the second floor, an immersive voyage of discovery into the world of wine. It winds around a central courtyard, allowing visitors to enjoy a flowing visit to the full. The area is framed by a spectacular and immersive wooden structure: 574 curving arches, all individually made, constructed of laminated timber. These wooden arches continue up the tower to the belvedere level in 128 spines, culminating at a height of 55 metres and tying the whole space together by interlacing the different floors. They accompany the visitor’s path at different levels, emerging on the outside of the building as they rise up the tower. The iconic indoor spaces all have their own particular identities, from the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium with its ceiling of suspended wooden tubes and the belvedere with its mirrored bottle ceiling to the immersive multi-sensory room with its curved glass walls printed with large wine-based designs.
Once fully grown, La Cité du Vin will be a dazzling display of golden reflections, reminiscent of the white stone of Bordeaux facades and in dialogue with the lights of the Garonne. This design and the twists it incorporates capture a fluid essence. Its outer structure consists of custom-printed glass panels (both flat and curved) in a variety of colours, and lacquered, iridescent aluminium panels in a single colour. The different, constantly changing shades and angles of these panels give the building an appearance which develops with the Bordeaux sky: reflections of the clouds, the city and the water enhance La Cité du Vin’s evocative appearance. Set a distance away from the structure, this shell offers shade from the sun and effective thermal protection.
Innovative tools to achieve an aim
The XTU agency’s use of innovative design tools to develop the geometry and complex shell helped to perfectly capture the architects’ mental image of La Cité du Vin and transform it into a sensational project.


Director of the permanent tour of
the Fondation pour la culture et les civilisations du Vin
At the heart of the visitor experience and the identity of La Cité du Vin, the immersive, multi-sensory permanent tour occupies some 3,000 m² and features 19 different themed spaces, the majority of which are interactive. Visitors are free to wander around the exhibition space as they see fit, with no fixed, compulsory route. The permanent tour is an invitation to a voyage of discovery, a journey through time and space exploring the evolution of wine and its civilisations. Young and old alike will get to grips with the very rich imaginary world of wine and how it has affected the societies and regions of the globe for millennia, from 6,000 BC to the present day. From legends, terroirs and landscapes to graphic arts, architecture and literature, the culture of wine is an extraordinary epic which has inspired and shaped the lives of humans for centuries.
The permanent tour allows the visitor to wander freely. Visitors can browse around at will, depending on their interests and the time at their disposal. As a participant or a spectator, sitting or standing, they can alternate between experiences which may be individual, collective, informative, fantasy or multi-sensory. Everyone is free to organise their own individual visit.

Visitors are joined on this odyssey by their personal handheld guide, connected to an innovative device which detects the wearer’s position within the exhibition space and sets of the appropriate multimedia content. The digital guide delivers the explanatory dialogue in real time in the user’s selected language (8 languages available), ensuring that as much of the material as possible is available to visitors with (visual, auditory or cognitive) disabilities. The guide also features a specially-designed programme for younger visitors. Visitors can also use the personal digital guide to highlight their favourite moments in the exhibition experience, and at the end of their visit they will be presented with a personalised information booklet filled with opportunities to learn more about their chosen subjects.


Pruning is essential. That is what the production quality and the longevity of the plots depends on. Indeed, the number of buds per plant determines the delicate balance of the vigour; pruning that leaves too many buds leads to a harvest that is too abundant and unable to ripen sufficiently. Conversely, pruning that is too severe leaves vines that are too vigorous, encouraging excessive growth to the detriment of the maturity of the grapes.
There is, not only for each plot, but for each grape variety, an optimal balance that only winegrowers understand with experience.
Winter pruning extends into the spring by a green pruning and bud-thinning. This means avoiding a build-up of vegetation that is harmful to the exposure of future grape clusters to the sun and as well to concentrating the nutrients produced by the leaves towards the branches that support the grapes, which encourages ripening. Lastly, bud-thinning enables the winegrowers to select future branches for thinning in advance.
Great wines are always produced from vines that are at least twenty years old. So the main objective of our wine-growing practices is to maintain the old vines in production for as long as possible. But their life expectancy doesn’t always fulfill our hopes... In particular, the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, the heart of our vineyard and the soul of our wine, has a very high mortality rate.
The main solution is to replace the plants, one by one, as and when they die. This is called “complantation”. This practice, as old as the vineyard, occupies all our winegrowers for two months just after the winter pruning. We replace between 10,000 and 15,000 plants per year! But it’s only at the price of this lengthy work that we’re able to maintain the high density of planting in our plots (10,000 plants per hectare); this allows the harmonious management of the vigour of the vines.
The complants themselves have a limited life expectancy... At the end of the day, it’s the whole plot that expires. So we then have to carry out a complete renewal. What a sacrifice! First, we have to pull up all the vine stocks and then let the soil rest for six years. Finally, we replant it and wait until these new vines grow and age in order to produce great wine.

Among all the risks that are the farmers’ lot in life, frost and hail are the two most terrible and unfair. In just a few minutes they can reduce to nothing a whole year, or even several years’ efforts. But by some sort of miracle, the great terroirs more often than not, escape these misfortunes. Hail is almost unknown at Château Margaux.
Why ? We really don’t know. On the one hand, if frost misses the greater part of our vineyard, it’s thanks to its particular situation, close to the river where the thermal inertia protects its surroundings from the cold and is sufficiently elevated to escape the accumulation of masses of icy air. Every rule has its exceptions… our white plot presents such a sensitivity to spring frosts that we decided, as of 1983, to install an anti-frost system. The principle is simple: we spray the vines with water for as long as the frost lasts, generally until dawn. The heat produced by the formation of ice enables the maintenance of the temperature above the limit below which the vegetation is destroyed. Before starting the sprinklers, we have to take into account the temperature, the wind and the air humidity, and all this at three o’clock in the morning! When the decision has been taken, in spite of fatigue, it’s a huge consolation to save the harvest and to be present at the fairy-like show given by the ice as it forms around the buds.

We intentionally keep the work of the land traditional, although a great part of it is carried out by high-clearance tractors and equipment that is of ever-increasing efficiency. Our four ways of ploughing: surfacing and desurfacing, surfacing, desurfacing rhythmically throughout the farming year is done in an almost unchanging way. It’s true that our soils, generally light and well-structured thanks to regular addition of manure, lend themselves well to this superficial work.
More strangely perhaps, we continue, twice per year, to remove the “cavaillons” by hand. This consists of loosening the coating of soil left around the vine stocks by the ploughs.
Our interest in research doesn’t only apply to new techniques, but also the old, traditional ones. For that reason, we are currently conducting some ploughing experiments with a horse. We would like to be able to draw on years of experience before returning to that method of ploughing, should that be the case.
Obtaining grapes that are ripe enough presupposes a perfect control of the phyto-sanitary condition of the vineyard. During the last thirty years, the quality of treatment products, their efficiency and their ease of use, hasn’t stopped improving. The power and precision of the new spraying equipment have also contributed a great deal to this success.
Mildew, powdery mildew, black-rot, excoriation, almost all fungal diseases, with the notable exception of the wood diseases, esca and eutypiose, that particularly affect the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, are now well controlled. Powdery mildew is controlled by sulphur and mildew by spraying copper sulphate, the famous “Bordeaux mixture”.
The case of grey rot (Botrytis cinerea) is certainly more delicate, but the low instance of vigour in our vines and their traditional behaviour create rather unfavourable conditions for the development of this disease.
The problem presented by parasites, insects and spiders is complex in a different way. In the nineteen eighties we questioned all of our vineyard protection policy with the objective of finding an alternative method to chemicals to preserve the balance of the spider and insect populations. After a few years of work, we were able to stabilise the situation. Since then, all these populations cohabit and autoregulate themselves without us having to take any action, or only in an organic way. At the end of the nineteen nineties, sexual confusion was developed in order to stop the grape worms reproducing. Not one insecticide is now used in our vineyards.
In 1986, Château Margaux was the first vineyard in the Médoc to practise thinning, which consists of removing a certain number of clusters before the start of the ripening period. In most of the young vines, the harvest in practice is too abundant to produce a quality wine; by reducing them at their mid-term, that is to say just before they change colour about the beginning of August, we encourage the ripening of the other clusters left on the vine, without increasing the vigour of the plant.
This technique also allows us to select the best clusters and to eliminate those that are badly placed on the vine, or that are already late compared to the others. It is work that is really meticulous and differs for each vine, grape by grape, which gives a good idea of the increasingly precise and rigorous attention given to the care of the vineyard.

The yield from the vines, expressed by their production (kilos of grapes or hectolitres of wine) is a key factor in the quality of the grapes. Too abundant a harvest never ripens because the vines become exhausted for no other reason than trying to feed too many clusters at once. In order to protect the quality of the wine and the longevity of the vines, the Margaux appellation has fixed a limit that is in general the most restrictive in the Médoc.
The very high density of the plantation in our vineyard (10,000 plants per hectare) would lead very quickly to an impossible tangling of the branches if we didn’t provide a good trellising. Primary objectives are to allow free circulation between the rows, on foot or by tractor, and to maximize the exposure of the clusters to the sun, a factor so necessary to their optimal ripening.
The trellising consists of two successive steps: first, lifting of the branches. That is done thanks to a set of mobile wires that we pick up as and when the vine grows. Then the cutting, or “topping”, of the tips of the branches, carried out mechanically by a piece of equipment on the overhead clearance tractors.
The acquisition of the grapes in a perfect state of ripeness is the precondition for producing a great wine; consequently, all our winegrowing practices are directed toward this objective. But by far and away the most important factor is the terroir: it’s their aptitude to enable the wine varietal to ripen well that distinguishes the greatest growths. To enable a grape to ripen “well” is to ensure that its components, that is to say sugar, acidity, aromas and tannins, evolve together at the same pace. In the Bordeaux region, we’re lucky enough to enjoy a temperate climate and a moderately rich soil, allowing the vines to accompany the grapes in this effort to create the perfect balance.
The objective of manure is to bring to the vine the nutrition that it needs, without excess that would increase the vigour to the detriment of the quality and in respect to the environment.
A manuring process known as “deep manuring” can also sometimes be applied as a preamble to a new plantation. Its objective is to restore structure and life to the soil. In all cases, we only use organic fertilisers that integrate naturally into the environment. A large part of this is brought in the form of bovine manure, produced by our herd and composted for at least a year.
At the end of the year’s work comes, at last, harvest time. Everything is finished, or nearly finished: the ripening is completing “August develops the must”, the great balances are happening, or not, in the grapes. However, a bit of suspense remains, because it’s in these last days that a good vintage still has a chance of becoming great. First, we have to choose the date, examine the grapes and analyse them, squeeze them, feel under our fingers and our tongue the softness of the pulp and the firmness of the tannins; ignore the big clouds rolling around in the sky in order to gain several more days and allow the Cabernet Sauvignon to finally reach perfect ripeness. In the meantime, we’ve formed our two hundred pickers into five teams, each made up of wine growers, and a majority of young students, who, instead of experience, bring us their willingness and their good humour. The pickers, more than half of whom come back year after year, receive training.
Here they are now, working hard in our plots. First, the Merlot, always earlier, then the Cabernet Franc, and finally the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, always later. The thinning operations in the summer have already allowed us to dispose of the unwanted clusters but a last rigorous sorting is imperative. The responsibility comes back directly to each picker and then to a specialist team for a final sorting before the grapes are destemmed.



For its second major artistic exhibition, La Cité du Vin reveals the richness of the links between music and wine through a sensitive, audiovisual journey, which in turn calls to mind the arts of painting, music and the stage. From the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century, reminders of the association between wine and music, inspired by antiquity, are numerous and appear in renewed forms in all circles, whether princely, bourgeois or popular. Dionysus (Bacchus for the Romans) is the god of wine and of creative inspiration. In its allegorical forms, music is itself frequently associated with wine, love and sensuality. Based on the custom of amorous meals in songs and the conviviality of banquets, taverns and cabarets, the alliance of wine and music goes back centuries and finds expression in all social strata. We find these mythical and symbolic references at the heart of great pictorial works, but also in popular imagery, the decoration of everyday objects, in ballets and operas as well as in repertoires of songs, either published or in the oral tradition. The exhibition reflects this profusion through six themed sections and nearly 150 works from French and European collections. Recordings of operas, excerpts of ballets and unpublished drinking songs are offered for listening and form musical interludes along the journey.
Dionysus was the fruit of the illicit love between Zeus and Semele, daughter of the king of Thebes. Brought up in secret, after lengthy wandering in the East, he returned to Greece to be recognised. An ambivalent god, he was a benefactor when he gave men the gift of the vine, but he also had a wild and even violent dimension. Relief sculptors and painters of ancient drinking vessels largely chose the joyous and beneficent character of the young god. In his festive procession (thiasus), he is usually portrayed wearing a long chiton (long linen tunic) and a panther skin, holding a kantharos (vase with high handles to drink the wine) in one hand, and in the other a thyrsus (long stick covered with ivy leaves or topped with a pine cone). He is accompanied by maenads (bacchantes for the Romans) who personify the trance and the orgiastic spirits of nature. Dressed in panther skin, equipped with a thyrsus and tambourine, they perform convulsive dances with satyrs who are often musicians. These triumphs were of great inspiration to the painters of the Renaissance, who give sensual, exuberant and sometimes parodic interpretations. The decoration of refined objects, but especially the official processions of princes, court spectacles (Lully in the 17th century), those of the elite (Massenet late 19th and early 20th century), but also those of the street, have been inspired by them over the centuries.


The very spirit of dance is embodied in the ambivalent figure of Bacchus, the god of feasting, transgression, excessive and indecent joy provoked by drunkenness. Dance is a symbol of lasciviousness, but it is also an initiatory ritual both in its ancient and mythological reference and in its later social uses: in modern times, the ideal aristocratic education could not do without dance. Carnival and the seasonal festivals during which most ballets and masquerades were danced, are based on features of the ancient cult (bacchanalia and saturnalia):   processions, floats, dressing up and masks hold a large place in them. Here we transgress the established order, the hierarchies, the social rules and decorum through acclamations of joy and excesses. The heroic ballet, of which Rameau was the champion in the 18th century, continued with the elite tradition in Paris at the Académie royale de musique, and later at the opera with Massenet in the early 20th century. Across the centuries, the branles, popular urban or village dances that celebrated royal events such as re-found peace, have associated the consumption of wine with the use of instruments suitable for dancing outdoors.
Wine associated with love exalts sensuality and pleasure. The gods were the first to succumb to it, as illustrated by many representations blending wine consumption and eroticism, sometimes coming close to the image of the brothel. The story of Dionysus, god of wine, consoling Ariadne, abandoned by her lover Theseus on the island of Naxos, has also known great success in painting and in music. In the 17th century, entertainments in the court of the young Louis XIV exploited this vein, that makes wine the auxiliary of love. Through the feast of Bacchus, it is Love that is celebrated. The success of these creations can be measured by the number of popular parodies that circulated afterwards. Licentious love is omnipresent in pictorial works showing the effects of drunkenness in small cafés and low-life places, especially among the painters of the North such as Dirck van Baburen or Gerrit van Honthorst. Among the engravers, popular scenes show urban entertainment in which intemperance and transgressions are hardly repressed by the authorities.
Many artists represent wine and music in allegorical or moralising compositions. The isolated figure of the intoxicated musician or the Drinking musician is a motif that is very popular among northern painters in the early 17th century. The most prolific are Gerrit van Honthorst, Dirck van Baburen and Hendrick ter Brugghen. Their characters, represented at half-length, are always of humble extraction. They hang out in taverns and lowlife places. They can sing along with a lute, or hold a violin in one hand and a full or upturned glass in the other. The feathered hat, an attribute of love, frivolity and sensuality, characterises their clothing. To express the Five Senses painters also offer individual human figures bearing an attribute, or a series of five subjects in the most sought-after staging. Another proposal is to portray the Five Senses by skilfully using the excuse of a banquet to associate the stereotypes of a musician (Hearing), a wine drinker (Taste), an admirer caressing a courtesan (Touch), a coquettish woman (Sight) and a smoker (Smell). The Still life allows a more restrained approach, less immediately sensual, but more meditative. It may seem at first glance to praise the pleasures of life, but with subtlety it reveals a more complex message, ambivalent and often moralistic. The border between still life and vanity thus appears very tenuous.



Music and wine are frequently associated in scenes involving couples around a table. The meal is almost finished but still visible. The music books have just been opened, the couples intertwine and serve each other wine while others play and sing in perfect harmony. From the end of the Renaissance, these scenes have inspired painters, engravers and also the master decorators of keyboard instruments. They evoke shared sensual pleasures, temperance, but sometimes also, in an elegant and restrained vein, the parable of the Prodigal Son with the fallen women. It was around these tables that a considerable repertoire of serious music and drinking songs circulated in the educated circles of the aristocracy and the wealthy bourgeoisie. They were either collected in handwritten form, with amateurs recording their own favourites, or printed. They were a flourishing speciality of both composers and printers in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Other sociability exists around the table: that of the tavern, joyful or melancholy, that of the inn, with consumption in the open air, or that of places devoted to regulars who formed societies like the Chambers of rhetoric in Flanders or the singing societies that developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some were relatively closed, ritualised and literary (such as the famous Caveau which flourished for two centuries), while others were more democratic, feminised and popular, like the workers’ goguettes. A crucible for many literary creations in the first case, home of a social and political identity in the other, these places had in common the song and the consumption of wine around variously laden tables. Here, the repertoire circulated in the form of very inexpensive collections where the lyrics are associated with well-known tunes called timbres. Their conscientious collection built up a repertoire that continued to be practised until the Second World War. The stereotypes and the imagination of these places are echoed skilfully in many operas and comic operas, where they contribute to the drama and the entertainment.


Located in Bordeaux, La Cité du Vin is a unique cultural facility dedicated to the universal, living heritage of wine. It offers a spectacular journey around the world, throughout the ages across countless cultures and civilisations. La Cité du Vin has become an essential feature in the Bordeaux tourist circuit, but is also a lively social venue for the inhabitants of Bordeaux and its surrounding area. La Cité du Vin is a place to see, visit and experience.
The architecture and scenic design of La Cité du Vin are the fruit of a close partnership between two firms: Parisian architects XTU and English museum design experts Casson Mann. Their project combines a bold, poetic interpretation of the spirit and intangible cultural power of wine, with a raft of immersive digital technologies.
At the heart of the visitor experience and the identity of La Cité du Vin, the immersive, multisensory permanent tour occupies some 3,000 m² and features 19 different themed spaces, the majority of which are interactive. Visitors are free to wander around the exhibition space as they see fit, with no fixed, compulsory route. Located on the eighth floor of La Cité du Vin, the belvedere is perched at a height of 35 meters. The culmination of a visit to the permanent tour, it invites visitors to discover the Gironde city and surrounding area with a 360° perspective and taste a glass of wine from the very best wine regions of the world.
In addition to this tour, visitors can take advantage of wine culture workshops to learn about the art of tasting with a cultural approach, or a journey through the terroirs and know-how of the world in the multi-sensory area to awaken the five senses. A true cultural facility, La Cité du Vin offers two major temporary exhibitions per year as well as a varied cultural programme. Encounters and debates, shows and festivities, terroir weekends, screenings, and colloquia, La Cité du Vin is the cultural crossroads of the city of Bordeaux.
A venue open to all, La Cité du Vin offers numerous public areas hosting life and exchange. Visitors can discover the building, take advantage of the landscaped garden next to the Garonne, have a bite to eat, head to La Boutique, or spend a while in the reading room perusing the various books and multimedia items for reference use.
La Cité du Vin is run by the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilisations. An accredited charitable organisation since December 2014, the primary purpose of the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilisations is to protect, celebrate and transmit the cultural, historic and intellectual dimensions of wine. The Foundation depends entirely on takings from La Cité du Vin and patronage donations, which thus play a crucial role in the economic model.


The ambition of making Mouton a place of art and beauty can be seen everywhere. Outside, in the harmonious arrangement of buildings and open space, in the subtle play of perspectives, in the zen-raked pathways, in the peaceful symmetry of the two end-walls that frame the château, in the contrast between the vertical lines of Petit Mouton, a modest, ivy-covered, mansard-roofed Victorian residence built in 1885, and the horizontal lines of Grand Mouton, constantly enhanced and redesigned since the 1960s.
Grand Mouton symbolises a whole art of living, and hence of receiving guests. It contains several large rooms: the Column Room and its Old Master paintings celebrating the vine and wine; the Dunand Room, in tribute to the famous lacquer artist, who around 1930 created a harvest dance for the liner Normandie; the Ramp Room with its sloping ceiling, its statues and its tapestries. After the Grand Chai and its precious casks, the Museum of Wine in Art, situated in a former barrel hall, is a sight of splendour, containing exceptionally rare items of 17th-century German gold- and silverware, jugs, cups and goblets from the fabulous treasure of the kings of Naples, antiques, mediaeval tapestries, paintings, ivories, glassware, Chinese, Japanese and Persian porcelain and much more. An unforgettable experience, it is a magical place where so many artists and art forms, cultures and religions bear resounding witness to the eternal and fruitful dialogue between art and wine.


We have to approach art as immediate as that of Picasso in a way that is entirely direct, honest, spontaneous and innocent… What we absolutely must not do is put him on a pedestal like some horror in a cemetery and talk about him as “a great man”: everything about him is alive, in constant movement, refusing to be confined in a lifeless statue. One of the grossest errors propagated about Picasso, and one we hear most often, is the idea that he is something to do with the Surrealists. In fact, in the majority of his paintings, the subject is almost always completely down to earth, never drawn from the dim world of dreams, never capable of being turned into a symbol, in other words not in any way Surrealist. Human limbs, human subjects in human surroundings; that is first and foremost what we find in Picasso.
Michel Leiris, Document 2, 1930.
Nothing can be done without solitude. I have created solitude for myself no-one ever dreams exists. It’s very difficult to be alone nowadays because we have wristwatches. Have you ever seen a saint with a wristwatch? I’ve looked everywhere and I haven’t been able to find a single one, not even on saints who are meant to be the patron saints of clockmakers
Picasso to Tériade, 1932.





The Boutique is a modern, stylish 250m² space which mirrors the golden reflections of the façade of La Cité du Vin, with tailored designer fittings. The store can be accessed without an admission ticket, and offers a selection of items from all around the world: decorative objects made from materials used in the world of wine, such as barrel staves or corks, a range of beauty products showcasing the benefits of vine products, edible treats, candles and lights, a wide selection of books, comics, and mangas on the theme of wine, stationery, and a selection of crockery and wine tasting items.

In his considerations on an aesthetic of erscheinen1, which also incorporate Dionysus in the title, Karl Heinz Bohrer asserts his thesis that Nietzsche’s figuration of the Dionysian advances an aesthetic of In-Erscheinung-treten2—and that, if anything, Dionysus is in actuality first and foremost in representing the god of erscheinen (appearance). He combines two further theses with that as well: First, that Nietzsche conceptualizes his work on the tragic—in which he introduces the opposition between the Dionysian and Apollonian as the polar struggle of artistic forces—not principally as a theory of the aesthetic but instead as a “life doctrine” (Lebenslehre), which at its core is, as he puts it, “the elementary, materialistic celebration of the life impulse (Lebensimpuls) and [the] undermining of idealistic presuppositions such as rationality, substance, subject” (Bohrer 2013,13).3 Secondly, Bohrer continues, wherever this life doctrine is applied to the aesthetic, it primarily represents an “aesthetic of the sublime,” without ever making clear whether it should be understood “in terms of the theory of reception or the aesthetics of production” (rezeptionstheoretisch oder produktionsästhetisch) (Bohrer 2013, 15).4 It is not my wish to contradict this, at least not completely, but rather to effect a shift or re-accentuation of the basic underlying motif—whereby it is important to recall once again that Nietzsche’s Dionysus, admittedly, represents a direct provocation and an attack on the interpretation of the classics accepted since Winckelmann, an interpretation that elevates the Apollonian to its central point of focus; Nietzsche’s introduction of another principle to oppose it, rather than representing a genuine invention, in actuality bridges the small gap between Hegel and Hölderlin. If, namely, the Hegelian aesthetic from the very beginning points to Schein and Erscheinung—as necessary conditions of truth, for the truth would not exist if it were not to “superficially appear” (scheinen) and “make its appearance” (erscheinen), writes Hegel—Schein and Erscheinung would still nonetheless be bound up everywhere with the criterium of the absolute; after all, the untruth of the aesthetic rests squarely in the fact that it cannot do other than to draw upon the language of Erscheinung. For Hölderlin, on the other hand, the Dionysian advances to become a metapoetic symbol combining itself—the enigmatic and continually transforming—with the practice of art.
Nietzsche continues along these very same lines even while giving the metaphor a thoroughly different twist. For if one wishes to express a formula describing the dichotomy or the shift I am seeking to highlight, one would have to say that, while Bohrer has a Romantic understanding of Nietzsche—or, to be more exact, understands him to be the high point and peak of the Romantic, which encompasses the aesthetic of the sublime and the “celebration of the life impulse (Lebensimpuls)” and, most notably, the criticism of idealism, the subverting of any accolades of the rational—Nietzsche still, however, implements a number of characteristic conversions into the terminological context that transport his art theory into an utter anti-Romanticism. With that, the question arises as to ‘what’ Nietzsche means with Dionysus—who ‘his’ Dionysus is—and to what extent art even unfolds within him, within his form—as opposed to his “beautiful appearance” (schönen Schein). In that, it will be revealed that the key to the upheaval associated with this figure rests in disaggregating a whole arsenal of terms constituting an exact, one-to-one correspondence with the traditional art theory of the day, revolving around the metaphor of the dream, the imagination and their dissolution, their negation—something associated with a thoroughly other metaphoricity, namely, that of violence, destruction and what one could call the “imposition of differentiation” (Differenzsetzung). And if the former conceptualization proves to be connected to a series of methods of form and process, the latter is satisfied to avail itself of the figure of the caesura, of “dis-formation” (Entstaltung) or resistance, whereupon the aesthetic concurrently discovers its reflective principle. Nietzsche hardly implements this; rather, he just indirectly insinuates it. As I hope to demonstrate, his art philosophy discovers its anti-Romantic leanings in that, rather than bring to its zenith something already applied long ago, it points to something in the future, something other, something encompassing the innate need to break with tradition.

As is well known, the Apollo/Dionysus coupling appears prominently in Nietzsche’s work from 1871, dedicated to Richard Wagner and entitled The Birth of Tragedy. Around the same time, in 1870, he penned his work The Dionysian Vision of the World, in it reexamining the problem of aesthetic representation, which Hegel’s aesthetic placed at the center of his art philosophy and which Romantic art drove (trieb) to the very fringes of portraying what is impossible to portray—and beyond (übertrieb5), recalling in particular the paintings of Henry Füssli and William Turner—in a reversion to the approaches of the antique, particularly the question of mimesis. Nietzsche broached the mimesis problem not explicitly but rather masked within the dichotomous opposition of the Apollonian and Dionysian. Both concepts, their complementarity as well as their continual interplay, supersede that which, in terms of the aesthetics of production, could be described as the actual core of the artistic process: the genesis of something or, quite literally, its exposition (Darstellung6). And that, according to Nietzsche, encompasses as a “double source” or “stylistic opposition” (Nietzsche 1999a, 119, 46) both of the “artistic drives” (Kunsttriebe) that “interweave” and “differ in their highest goals” (Nietzsche 1999a, 76, see also 14–15, 25–26, 59)— namely, the Dionysian and Apollonian, a complex of leitmotifs that persist throughout Nietzsche’s entire philosophical oeuvre even as they undergo numerous reinterpretations. He continues treating them in Twilight of the Idols (i.e. Nietzsche 1998b, 185–187) as well as in countless passages in his unpublished writings, especially those which stem from the mid-1880s and are on the periphery of what he calls the “will to power” (Willen zur Macht), whereby an increasing radicalization also becomes apparent. At the very beginning of The Birth of Tragedy, we encounter the expression “duplicity,” denoting what is still undecided (I will return to this later). What is decisive, however, is that aesthetic representation, rather than crumbling in its idea and Erscheinung as seemed immanent after Hegel, emerges—to adapt Heidegger’s formulation—from a ‘struggle,’ a polemos or polemic, chiefly encompassing form on the one hand while belonging to an excess on the other, whereby “excess,” superficially speaking, signifies the Rausch7 or, in a Platonic sense, “mania” (creative madness) and, specifically speaking, addresses the obsession of genius—or, to go even deeper, as is my aim, addresses the “ecstasy,” a word evoking a slew of associations from the protrusions of ‘Ex-istence’ (the very same word) through the budding of materiality to that which we could, in a still highly abstract way, call ‘the event.’

I will now return once again to Nietzsche’s text on tragedy in order to unearth the key characteristics. On the one hand, we see written there that the artwork is “as equally Dionysian as it is Apollonian,” whereby Nietzsche speaks of “the common goal of both drives (Triebe) […]” (Nietzsche 1999a, 28) and disparate “ways to the creation of art” (Nietzsche 1999a, 128) so that the impression arises that he is discussing an alternative—two fundamentally different artistic processes yielding different kinds of works. Thus it literally attests to an “opposition” (Nietzsche 1999a, 19), to artistic stances “which differ in their deepest essence and highest goals” (Nietzsche 1999a, 76). On the other hand, Nietzsche still emphasizes in the 1880s that both elements must first of all come together in order to bring art into existence at all, though the way they actually come together still remains unclear. Now the oppositional dichotomy of the two forces—which never, of course, exist purely as forces or urges on their own but instead foster energies allowing something to emerge—owes its existence to a number of conceptual differentiations that ascribe specific attributes to both the Apollonian and the Dionysian. In reference to Apollo, talk centers on the illusion—the old mimesis problem as discussed by Plato—as well as on the Traumbild or “dream-images” (Nietzsche 1999a, 15)—as classic metaphor for the phantasm, the imaginarium— and on the “mask” (Nietzsche 1999a, 46), while in reference to the Dionysian it accords a characteristic “ecstatic” celebration and “unmeasurable excess” (Nietzsche 1999a, 27, 128). In later years, these are positioned in even clearer referential relationship to each other and delineated as subspecies of the very same eccentricity; Nietzsche asks in Twilight of the Idols, “What is the meaning of the conceptual opposition I introduced into aesthetics, between Apollonian and Dionysian, both conceived as types of intoxication (Rausch)?” (Nietzsche 1998b, 48), whereby the answer to his question leaves no room for doubt that dissociation or displacement distinguishes the Dionysian ecstasy as the primary “basic aesthetic condition,” while the imaginary simply builds its corollary, a corollary only defined upon the artistic nature (Kunsthaftigkeit) of art.
What the Apollonian-Dionysian principle actually means, however, can only be clarified in a juxtaposition of the two. For example, Apollo’s Telos—as we read in the shorter text The Dionysian Vision of the World—is the form, the picture, the statue (Nietzsche 1999a, 127), and its Gestaltung faithfully obeys the “lovely semblance” (schönen Schein) (Nietzsche 1999a, 15) and its “law” (Nietzsche 1999a, 26) of “measured limitation” (maassvolle[n] Begrenzung) (Nietzsche 1999a, 16), as Nietzsche continues to maintain in The Birth of Tragedy. In contrast, Nietzsche describes the Dionysian art or art energy—initially deriving it, very true to Schopenhauer, from the “imageless art of music” (Nietzsche 1999a, 14, also 21, 28–31, 76)—as emerging from the “Spiel8 with the Rausch” (Nietzsche 1999a, 119–121, 130). But let us inquire as to the meaning of Rausch—which, incidentally, is the attribute classically assigned to Dionysius in the character of Bakchos: Rausch entails an eccentricity, leaving the sphere of that which we could, along with Schopenhauer, call the “principium individuationis”—the ability to differentiate, accompanied by its embodiments of representation (Nietzsche 1999a, 120–122), whereupon things are, as it were, in their place; trees are trees, houses are houses and people are subjects who make their decisions autonomously and in the capacity of their own responsibility. By contrast, the Rausch reveals the erupting force “of the general element in nature” (Nietzsche 1999a, 120). Going far beyond Schopenhauer—who nevertheless granted music a special status inasmuch as it does not depict or represent anything but rather manifests the “will” itself—Nietzsche accounts for the experience of the Dionysian with the experience of chaos, in which distinctions no longer hold any validity whatsoever and things blur together indiscriminately. It is for that reason that Nietzsche, in examining the Dionysian, speaks of the “‘barbaric’” (Nietzsche 1999a, 27), the “horror” (Nietzsche 1999a, 17) and “terror” or “shock” (Nietzsche 1999a, 21), whereby it can be added that “shock”—as Plato put it, that “freefall into the darkness”—belongs as much as the Aristotelian “self-astonishment” does to the “primeordial” philosophical feelings, that is to say, to those emotions that first teach us to philosophize. What does this astonishment, this shock effectuate? Certainly, the latter can be tied to the experience of the sublime à la the traditional schools of pseudo-Longinus and Edmund Burke— but first, at the onset, this shock creates a rupture, a shift, a catastrophë. Nietzsche, too, speaks of the “tearing apart” (Zerreissung) (Nietzsche 1999a, 20), a dis-rupture of all ties and points of reference as well as the destruction of the “usual barriers and limits of existence” (Nietzsche 1999a, 40). The special thing about Nietzsche is, however, that the “unsettling” nature of this rupture is not the kind to be avoided at all costs, the destruction of an order prerequisite to life, but is rather— also assuming the literal meaning of “unsettling” (entsetzlich)—that which “re-settles” (versetzen) us into another place, through that very process opening up something “never before perceived.” In short, it is the negativity of the rupture that first serves as prerequisite of the other, the new. As a result, what is decisive about the Dionysian is the wholehearted negation (Nietzsche 1999a, 138), through which—as stated in Nietzsche’s work on the tragedy—the “principle of sufficient reason […] appears to suffer an exception” and the human being will, “suddenly become confused and lose faith in the cognitive forms of the phenomenal world” (wenn er plötzlich an den Erkenntnisformen der Erscheinung irre wird) (Nietzsche 1999a, 17) but, through that very fact, stumble near to the “truth” of nature and of “life” (cp. Nietzsche 1999a, 39): “Apollo stands before me as the transfiguring genius of the principium individuationis,  through whom alone release and redemption in semblance can truly be attained, whereas under the mystical, jubilant shout of Dionysos the spell of individuation is broken, and the path to the Mothers of Being, to the innermost core of things, is laid open” (Nietzsche 1999a, 76).
One must slightly mitigate the pathos of the formulation in order to reach the core of what is meant; for if Apollo represents the language of form—whose traditional principle is identity, whose Romantic criticism is the fragment, whose irresolvability nevertheless holds to its basic tenet because the seal of “measure” (Nietzsche 1999a, 27) applies even in those places where only the frail appears (erscheint)—then Dionysus signifies the language of differentiation, grounded in negation and only allowing itself to be spelled out in the negative. It is for that reason that a note from Nietzsche’s unpublished writings dating to 1885 combines the divinity with diabolos (cf. Nietzsche, 1999b, KSA 11, 473); the word here, used in the singular, is not meant to denote seduction—the diabolical as negative principle par excellence—but rather should be read in light of the ancient contradistinction between symbolon and diabolon, “throwing together” (Ger.: Zusammenwerfen) and “throwing into disarray”9 (Ger.: Durcheinanderwerfen)—order and chaos as the corresponding moments of interplay in a game (Spiel).

The negativity of the Dionysian makes a decided appearance (Erscheinen) here as indispensable moment of creativity. Nietzsche conceives of the creative much less as emerging from creatio than from the Riss (“fissure”) or differentiation. For this reason, I speak of the transition of an aesthetic of representation or of form to an “aesthetic of difference,” as is characteristic of the avant-garde throughout the transition from the art of the classical to modernity, particularly at the beginning of the 20th century. One could say that Nietzsche, within the emphatic language of the 19th century, premonished the avant-garde. Moreover, this dramatically points to an elementary “experience of difference” that also allows itself to be expounded as the Aufscheinen (“dawning appearance”) of “ex-istence;” (cf. Lyotard 1994 and Mersch 2004) and that drama rests in its definitions of a higher truth, a higher truth itself later revealed to be an illusion just as it is heralded with fanfare and as it indicates a further dichotomy tracing a path throughout Nietzsche’s work—namely, the polarity of “reflection” and “true knowledge” (Nietzsche 1999a, 40), or analysis, method and determination on the one hand and revelation on the other. Put differently, the Dionysian means the very moment of that Riss so literally tantamount to the Aufriss10 of presence—that primordial tremor, to quote Heidegger, “that there are beings, rather than not” (cp. e.g. Heidegger 1994, 3).
Nietzsche both attempted to capture and mystified this extraordinary moment in ever-new turns of phrase and formulations. I quote: “The Olympian magic mountain (Zauberberg) now opens up, as it were, and shows us its roots” (Nietzsche 1999a, 23). At the same time, he speaks of the “salvation” (Erlösung) into or within the “mystical sense of oneness” (Nietzsche 1999a, 19), of the “truly existing (Wahrhaft-Seiende) and primal unity (Ur-Eine)” and the gaze into “the true essence of things” (Nietzsche 1999a, 40), which the “ecstatic vision” of rapture necessitates (Nietzsche 1999a, 26). Nietzsche himself appears to be literally hingerissen (“enraptured”) and mitgerissen (“swept away”) by his formulations, but even in the medium of language itself we find ourselves dealing with a delirium, a futility, one that seeks less to evoke the disparity between forces or between aesthetics of form and of event than it does to demonstrate a historical disparity—the dichotomy between the legacy of tradition and that which is expressible, future, that which presages something only later to be taken up by the avant-garde of modernity: an ongoing practice of the “destructive” or “deconstruction,” which presupposes the positives of the form, the medium and the representation, and therefore the elements of the classical aesthetic, in order to break with them and to chronicle within them the difference (Differenzpunkt) of their dissolution. At the same time, two dichotomous forms of knowledge are allocated to them. The first is the law of selflimitation and self-knowledge, which conceptualizes the artist as author and subject of his work, which bring to expression his/her intentio, his/her inspirations and his/her will. The second is the experience of a scar, an injury incurred upon time and its literal unheilen,11 a scar stylizing the artist as an anomaly, stigmatized and rejected—a scar that, as it is furnished with the insignia of its victim and his madness, is nonetheless, according to the auto-descriptions of Arthur Rimbaud, Lautréamont and also Antonin Artaud, able to articulate by name a higher “truth.” If Nietzsche—at least at the point in time at which he composed The Birth of Tragedy—appears caught within the radicalization of the late Romantic and continual formulation of its internal prolongations, it is my thesis that a deeper dichotomy is already rooted in the confrontation between the Apollonian and Dionysian, one that “ex-hibits” the breaking of the new epoch, its inescapable caesura that will simultaneously transport artistic practice into new terrain. Nietzsche only suggests this possibility without further explication. His reference to the Dionysian power of negation thus eases up the extreme Romantic fixation on the subject of the artist and his/her extraordinary genius, something Nietzsche himself doubtless always idealized; at the same time, however, he discards the “previous” expressive media in order to unleash that which has no endemic representation and does not tolerate symbolization—for the Other, the extraordinary, the not-yet-conceived, only “exists” in the sense of a giving, a gifting, where the language, the picture and, along with that, the forms of representation are destroyed, where the “difference” thus cleaves the medial in order to uncover in and through it a heterogeneity, an entity as invisible as it is unable to be represented.

The distinction thus made virulent correspondingly straddles on the one hand the Schein and the Erscheinung in terms of the significance of the “what,” which draws its execution and determination from its individuation, and on the other the “Erscheinung of the Erscheinung” in the sense of the “which” (quod), that eventfulness of a presence which never “makes its appearance” (erscheinen) in the positive but rather can only be grasped in the negative (cp. Mersch 2002, 355ff.).12 This also means that as long as art is working with form, representation or technē, it remains media-bound and proceeds as Apollonian; but as soon as these are dethroned and traversed by art, that which lacks conceptualization and fails in purpose is allowed to emerge. This, and none other, is the meaning of the Dionysian: The medium constitutes, shapes and makes sensory; its fracture or breaking, on the other hand, confronts with a gap, a Durchriss (“a rupture, having been torn through”), whereby the “unfitting”—unfitting in the sense of something stepping “outside itself”— reveals itself. We are then dealing with “another” present time, not one whose presence is already hidden in its Zeichen (“sign”) or Auszeichnung (“distinction; sketching or characterization”), its framing or staging, one which Jacques Derrida designated as “deferred action” and the unavoidable a-presence (Derrida 1978, esp. 310–311), but rather one in which the experience of the negative and of alterity intersect, one which only exists where a contradiction, an aporia occurs. It is for that reason that Nietzsche speaks of the “detonation” of the principium individuationis as well as—in easily misunderstood adherence to terminology from the philosophy of subjectivity—of the “grow in intensity, [which] cause[s] subjectivity to vanish to the point of complete self-forgetting (Steigerung des Subjectiven zu völliger Selbstvergessenheit)” (Nietzsche 1999a, 17), the “being-drivenoutside-oneself” state of “ecstasy” (Nietzsche 2009, 10), as he later describes it, which can only appear beyond the medial while still existing through media, undermining and subverting its mediality; the aesthetic of difference supposes the aesthetic of form in the same measure as it shatters it. Hence, we can only speak of an “grow in intensity, [which] cause[s] subjectivity to vanish to the point of complete self-forgetting” where the subjectivity of the subject as well as the mediality of the medium are as equally salvaged as they are shaken and transcended. The transition from the aesthetic of form to that which I call the aesthetic of difference thus implies the desubjectification of creativity; “subjectivity disappears entirely before the erupting force of the general element in human life (Generell-Menschlichen), indeed of the general element in nature (Allgemein-Natürlichen)” (Nietzsche 1999a, 120). As stated in The Dionysian Vision of the World, “The artistic force of nature, not that of an individual artist, reveals itself here” (Nietzsche 1999a, 121). With that, Nietzsche anticipates with equal intensity that dictum of the “death of the author,” which only later came to actuation via the theories of poststructuralism and intertextuality. At the same time, however, he holds to a systematic ambiguity or indeterminacy, because overcoming and being “sanctified” (geheiligt) are possible for the subject only on the basis of the subjectivity of “life” and for the artist only within the disempowerment of the Rausch. It is in the Dionysian principle, thus, that a foreshadowing becomes apparent and, even as the time and its expressive possibilities are not yet ripe for such an emergence, we see Nietzsche steering his thoughts toward that end. The question arises as to what can serve as a replacement where the subject is missing—and, equally, what art and the artistic process can mean in those places where the medial has tumbled right through its fracture, its Riss.
With that, Nietzsche is aiming at every turn for something threatening in the selfsame moment to slip out of control; only the radicalization to come later will resolve the ambiguities between the Apollonian and the Dionysian as artistic forms and aesthetic principles. “[I] was […] the first to understand the marvelous phenomenon of the Dionysian,” he writes in Ecce homo (Nietzsche 2007, 46); it was he who, in utter furtiveness and solitude, presented a “victim” in his debut work. “I found no one who understood what I was doing then,” he adds in Beyond Good and Evil (Nietzsche 1998a, 176). Nietzsche himself thus discarded The Birth of Tragedy as “Romantic”—not only in the “SelfCritique” he appended to it later, which particularly castigates “linguistic kitsch,” but also, more importantly, in his notes between 1885 and 1886 under the heading “Regarding ‘The Birth of Tragedy,’” where we find the following remark: “A book […] with a metaphysics of the artiste in the back-ground. At the same time the confession of a Romantic” (Nietzsche 2003, 80). It sought to pin down the Erlösung of illusion and Schein as the classic goals of art through the force of becoming, whereby the “anihiliation of even the most beautiful illusion (schönen Schein)” signifies the peak of “Dionysian happiness” (Nietzsche 2003, 82). A commensurate dichotomy is constructed here between classical and Romantic art on the one hand and Dionysian (Nietzsche 2003, 80–83) on the other, the latter endowed with the flora of a practice as destructive as it is life-giving, as equally creative as it is destructive, one which leaves behind the conventional aesthetic of form and representation. What is to take its place? Just what is the meaning of “aesthetic of difference”?
I will make a cautious attempt at accessing this. Nietzsche first removes the artist from the art and thus thinks his way toward an understanding of art requiring as little of the self-sufficient “intention to form”—the principle of all art until the Romantic—as it does of the anticipatory inspiration. “The work of art where it appears without an artist, e.g., as body […],” reads a fragment from Nietzsche’s unpublished writings, “[h]ow far the artist is only a preliminary stage. What does ‘subject’ mean— ?” (Nietzsche 2003, 82) Both purposes belong together: the Dionysian as the negative—and the Dionysian as desubjectification, as withdrawal of self-sufficiency. The notations cited above are made around the same time that the Rausch reaches its emphatic peak as aesthetic principle in Twilight of the Idols. If Nietzsche still spoke in the Dionysian Vision of the World of the “Spiel with the Rausch,” for example, he says from now on, “[f]or there to be art, for there to be any kind of aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological precondition is indispensible: intoxication (Rausch)” (Nietzsche 1998b, 46–48). And what he sees as the most important thing about the Rausch is the delimitation, the negation of the will, which on the flip side corresponds to an “feeling of increased power (Kraftsteigerung)” (Nietzsche 1998b, 47); one could add that “force” here is used in the sense of an “overabundance of life.” Accordingly, Nietzsche’s entire later philosophical body of work characterizes itself via extension of the Dionysian principle; Heidegger tied into this in his interpretation of Nietzsche, construing the “fill” and “feeling of increased power” as the “will to power,” and art as its “distinctive form” (Heidegger 1991, 92), one that designates the exact “opposite” of Kant’s “disinterested pleasure”—in two ways, in fact: once in view of the aesthetic judgment that binds the experience of art to receptivity, and once in view of the passivity of the perception and the “release” (Freigabe) of that “which is” (Heidegger 1991, 109). The first, thus, is desubjectification, or better, disempowerment of the subject; the second, its correlate, is the centering of the aesthetic on the body. The a priori of the lived-body (Leibapriori) does not mean that precedence is assumed by intensity, surplus, or that which Nietzsche again and again accounts for with the expression “force” (Kraft) but, rather, that “eccentricity” of a positionality outside one’s self, which Heidegger, in turn, connects with a “being embodied” (Leiben) of a “body” (Leib) (Heidegger 1991, 99). One could say the body here induces a productivity from affect, an unintentional dynamic touching on the phatic autonomy of an “obsession,” that is to say, on the passivity of alterity (Mersch 2006).
Thus—as Heidegger also emphasizes—Nietzsche asks not about the work as a result, as place of reception, but rather, primarily, about procedures and their implementation, their impact, about that which is not an intention and its embodiment but instead signifies an aesthetic thinking in and through deed, as it were—thinking not set in dichotomous opposition to action and interrupting it but rather springing from it as its own form of recognition, a knowledge that is non-discursive and unable to be made discursive. Thirdly—in the literal sense of meta hodos (following a path), or perhaps even better, in the sense of poros (a passage always traversing the material and bodily) or of metaporos or even diaporos (which demands permeability)—a vital method for this, besides desubjectification and the consummate pathicism seeping through every single pore (the same word!), is what I have attempted multiple times already to delineate as a break or interruption, the literally unfathomable depths of a Riss. This Riss follows from the artistic production just as it passes through it and comes to pass from it. The correlation Nietzsche draws between art and event, established upon the aesthetics of production, is based on this “imposition of difference” (Differenzsetzung). The aesthetic event is the difference and follows it just as, conversely, the difference proceeds from the innards of the aesthetic process, as it were, after a Riss has been made within it. How can this be made comprehensible? With Nietzsche, much remains too undefined—because, as Heidegger also states in his commentary, for Nietzsche, “all [is] proper to art. But then art would only be a collective noun and not the name of an actuality grounded and delineated in itself” (Heidegger 1991, 122). Clearly, the problem rests in the fact that the creative productivity thus avouched cannot actually be understood; rather, it resembles life, the presence of the body and its mystification, attributing to it a “will to power” and thereby arguing no less metaphysically than the artistic concept it is battling—especially when it comes to the artistic concepts of Plato and Hegel. Nietzsche, in opposing both, totalizes the fill of life and stylizes its unfolding as an artistic deed. Contrary to that, the ability to even posit any given “event of difference” would depend on an appropriate reconstruction of the particular strategies of artistic production—that is to say, the concrete underlying figures of difference.
In closing, allow me to sketch out a few further thoughts. I will use the term ‘aesthetic strategy’ in doing so. This catchword concerns artistic work and the artistic working method and can— although it does not necessarily exhausted itself in it—also mean working with the body; if anything, I use it with the intention of calling to mind the conceptualization of a combination of practices that play a central role in Adorno’s aesthetic and that initially, at the very moment of con stellare—that is to say, a scattering or “foreordaining” (Fügung) of positions (Stellungen)—do nothing other than to reveal their unfitting mismatch, their gaps or (again quite literally in the German) their “dislocated faultlines” (lit. Verwerfungen 13 ) and “misrepresentation” (lit. Entstellungen14). For this, it is necessary to enable the experience of an ‘in-between.’ This “betwixt” happens in the performative by virtue of those clefts and “chiasms,” which posit an event of difference just as the unfitting mismatch of those foreordinations (Unfügliche der Fügungen), their self-denial, and even the force of synthesis are opened up, eased and rent asunder (aufgerissen). The preferred means for this is contradiction, which only allows itself to be manifested indirectly— within intra-scenic intervals or in their empty spaces and gaps, such as in the unwieldiness of pictures, words and tones as well as in the disruptions and dysfunctionalities through which media reveal their mediality. Nietszche’s “ecstasy” could be applied here—in the resolution of contours, such as through the contrary use of figurations; in inversions; in such a way, namely, that the materials brought into play reveal their materiality and the techniques applied their ambiguity. To state it differently: In what I term the aesthetic of difference, the production of paradoxes assumes a prominent position. Paradoxes prepare the way for the previously alluded paths, passages or even jumps, which cannot be planned or anticipated but only tested and tried out. At the same time, they keep work with the aesthetic in such instability as to allow that which is repressed and unreproducible to come to light. My wish is to emphasize the word “allow” here, which designates a possibility and not a necessity; within such “ex-periments”—making noted reference to the actual hidden meaning of the expression, namely, “passages” or “journeys”—artistic practice has its exercises, i.e., its reflective asceticism. What these might be cannot be stated in advance, nor can they be canonized, nor can they be learned; they emerge with the full force of neutrality. What is the definition of “aesthetic of difference”? It is the duplication of clefts or divisions; and from those gaps and “contrasts”—literally, the contra-stare, the “composite” (Zusammensetzung) as “opposition” (Gegenstellung)—“breaks forth” the inconceivable, the other, without obeying or deriving from the laws of causality—a singularity of event that simultaneously makes something able to be seen, experienced and recognized that could not be accessed in any other way, i.e., the “wresting” (Erringung) of preternatural knowledge that could not be won by any other means.
In all this, Nietzsche’s intuition remains utterly groundbreaking—a guide, if only suggestive or indicatory, like the intimation of a nod or a slight touch in passing. Applied differently, and again in reference to the words of Nietzsche himself: It is not the form, the gestalt, the ‘what’ and with that, the determinable and individualizable that appear to be crucial but rather the undetermined, the destructive, which ‘emancipates’ (freigibt) in furtherance of a new, other emergence (Erscheinen). Both aesthetic differences and practical paradoxes trace the path toward that end. They signify not an end in themselves, not an uncommitted l’art pour l’art upon which art realizes its pleasure principle, but rather build the media of a reflective practice that exists in the singular and whose pores and passages, in the sense of diaporos and metaporos, resemble insinuations or directives. In their thoroughly preliminary nature and experimental status, they induce the specifics of an aesthetic episteme birthed from the practical itself. The artist retrogresses behind it, understanding him- or herself in this less as one who creates or works on effects than as an arranger of the surprising and unpredictable—in short, no longer functioning as maître de Plaisir but rather as maître de paradoxe.
1 Scheinen (verb), Schein (related noun): 1. Shine, glow. 2. Appear, seem (sometimes only superficially, as in an illusion). Erscheinen (verb), Erscheinung (related noun): To make an appearance (as in “emerge”); or, an appearance/phenomenon (with no illusion implied). 
2 Treten: To enter into. Thus, in-erscheinung-treten means “entering into erscheinung” (cf. previous footnote). 
3 [Passage translated from the German original by Gratia Stryker-Härtel.] 
4 [Passage translated from the German original by Gratia Stryker Härtel.]  
5 Übertrieb, v.: exaggerated; translated here as “drove beyond.” At its root is Trieb, n.: 1. Instinct, impulse, urge, drive. 2. Sexual drive. 3. Plant shoot. 
6 Darstellung, n.: Representation. Lit.: da: There (i.e., “Right there, before your very eyes”) + stellen: To place, posit. 
7 Rausch, n.: Ecstasy, rapture, delirious state; inebriation. 
8 Spiel, n. (spielen, v.): Play, game, performance.  
9 From the Greek. Bolos (from ballein): throw; sym-: together; dia-: across, through. 
10 Aufriss (n.): 1. Laceration, tear, opening. 2. Sketch, layout, outline.       Aufreissen (related v.): To rip open, tear at, lacerate. 
11 Combines un- (prefix) + heilen (v., “healing”) to create a new verb while also evoking the nouns Unheil (“bane, disaster”) and heilig (“sacred, holy”). 
12 [Passage translated from the German original by Gratia Stryker-Härtel.] 
13 The root of the German word werfen is also related to the aforementioned zusammenwerfen and durcheinanderwerfen. 

14 The root of the German word Stellung is also related to stellare.

Discover a selection of the world’s wines with a 360° view of Bordeaux
Located on the eighth floor of La Cité du Vin, the belvedere is perched at a height of 35 metres. The culmination of a visit to the permanent tour, it invites visitors to discover the Gironde city and surrounding area with a 360° perspective.
An invitation to contemplate, this unique panoramic view establishes natural continuity between a visit to the permanent tour and the culmination of this cultural experience: tasting a glass of wine from the very best wine regions of the world.
In this exceptional space, a monumental chandelier made of thousands of bottles and a 10-metre-long oak counter enhance the uniqueness of the location. Visitors round off their visit by tasting a wine of their choice from a regularly updated selection of twenty from across the world. Younger visitors can discover a grape juice specially chosen for them.

To ensure that a wide range of global wines are available in the belvedere, La Cité du Vin has established partnerships with interprofessional organisations in various wine regions across the world.

Le 7 is the name of the panoramic restaurant at La Cité du Vin. This constantly bustling space serves sweet and savoury food from 10am to 11pm, and you can also stop for a glass of wine, a coffee, or a glass of champagne, 7 days a week. You will be treated to the most beautiful view of Bordeaux that any restaurant has to offer. Under the direction of Bordeaux restaurant star Nicolas Lascombes, our chefs have designed a generous menu offering regional, seasonal products, with global influences. A perfect balance of Bordeaux savoirfaire and inspiration from other civilisations of the world. Wine pairings are suggested for each dish.
Being a great wine-lover, our head sommelier offers a selection of 500 wines from Bordeaux and beyond, covering 50 countries. The list features the 25 great Bordeaux icons, as well as a selection of 32 wines by the glass. Small producers have not been forgotten, and the main idea is to provide pleasure and discovery to suit all budgets. Sunday’s menu features seafood platters, with non-stop service until 4pm. 

 This reference cellar will offer more than 14,000 bottles of 800 wines, including 200 from France and 600 from more than 80 countries across the world. This exceptional range has been selected by Régis Deltil, a Bordeaux wine merchant, and his tasting panel of key figures such as Andréas Larsson (World’s Best Sommelier 2007) and Michel Rolland.
Open for lunch and dinner, the wine bar offers food accompa - nied by a selection of 40 bottles from the cellar, by the bottle or the glass. This wine list changes to match the La Cité du Vin cultural programme.
Open daily during the day, the snack bar offers a variety of gourmet creations and global tapas to eat in or take away. In - side or outside next to the Garonne, stop in for breakfast, lunch or a snack break with a large range of homemade bread. Eight wines will be available by the glass, with the list changing weekly.
Latitude20 is managed by the Arom group run by Didier Oudin, in association with Régis Deltil and Christian Messaris.
Latitude20 invites you to travel and discover. The 20th parallel of latitude conjures up an image of New World wines, ex - treme vineyards venturing between the 20th parallel north and south. Wines from such places as Bali, India, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Brazil and Tahiti will be available to discover in these restaurant areas and the Latitude20 wine cellar. In addition to its clear wine reference, the number 20 also suggests the 2.0 nature of the space.



Although the exact location of the first vines grown in Bordeaux is unknown, the vestiges of luxurious villas – the ancestors of today's wine châteaux – have been found in Saint-Emilion. One such villa belonged to Ausone (Ausonius in Latin), poet-winemaker and Roman Consul in the 4th century AD. The expansion of the Saint-Emilion vineyards continued through the centuries, especially during the Middle Ages. The creation and development of the port of Libourne in the 12th century, during the English occupation, led to thriving maritime trade that spread the reputation of Saint-Emilion wines throughout Europe. They were already considered of superlative quality at the time, with unusual ageing potential, and were often given as special gifts to royalty and other important people. Poetically referred to as "the hill with a thousand châteaux", Saint-Emilion has a colourful history. Skilled and enthusiastic winegrowers have long contributed to its stellar reputation.
The appellation surrounds the eponymous medieval town on a limestone plateau situated east of Libourne, where the Isle and Dordogne rivers meet. Château Cheval Blanc has an altogether unique terroir in Saint-Emilion. While most of the appellation's other famous estates have limestone soil dating from the Tertiary Period, Cheval Blanc's soil features alluvia from the Quaternary Period deposited by the Isle. And like most of the prestigious estates in Pomerol, Cheval Blanc's soil formation has a varied texture that does not include limestone. However, Cheval Blanc is also different – and unique – in that the proportion of gravel and clay is just about equal. This gift of nature is essential in understanding the estate's history.
Archives show that wines have been grown at Cheval Blanc at least as far back as the 15th century. Furthermore, a document dated 1546 shows that the owner at the time leased the vineyard, and a contract from 1587 specified that the sharecropper "will live there when the sun goes down to keep an eye on the vines...". A century later, the "Au Cheval-Blanc" tenant farm was sold to Bertrand de Gombaud for the sizeable sum of 1,400 francs. Two winegrowers were living full-time at Cheval Blanc on the eve of the French Revolution. This was very unusual at the time, and reflects how highly the terroir was regarded.
The most prestigious part of Cheval Blanc's history can be said to date from 1832, when Jean-Jacques Ducasse, President of the Libourne Trade Tribunal, purchased the core of the present-day estate. Over the next twenty years, the purchase of plots belonging to Château Figeac led to the creation of the 39- hectare vineyard as we know it today. The configuration has remained practically unchanged. The marriage of Jean-Jacques' daughter, Henriette, with Jean Laussac-Fourcaud, a Libourne wine merchant, opened a new chapter in the history of Cheval Blanc that would define and consolidate the identity of this unique property.
After Henriette inherited Cheval Blanc, her husband undertook a spectacular renovation. He was among the first people to understand the importance of water stress to produce the finest wines, and put in an efficient drainage system.
However, the greatest progress made by the new owners was in the vineyard. Aware of Cheval Blanc's outstanding potential, and helped by an extraordinary intuition, Jean Laussac-Fourcaud replanted part of the estate in the 1860s with a totally atypical proportion of grape varieties: half Merlot (the king of the Right Bank) and half Cabernet Franc. This replanting was finished in 1871.
Formerly known as vin de Figeac, the wine was first sold under the name Cheval Blanc in 1852. This was the beginning of a prestigious career.
Jean Laussac-Fourcaud focused on one goal for over thirty years: to make his wine one of the very best in Saint-Emilion and to enhance its reputation. Cheval Blanc obtained its first medal at the 1862 Universal Exhibition in London. In fact, a representation of this bronze medal is found on the château's present-day label. Cheval Blanc won their first gold medal at the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris, and this new distinction also appeared on the label. In 1886, Cheval Blanc won a second gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Antwerp. Reflecting this series of successes and a wine well on the way to achieving international recognition, a château was built on the estate.
Cheval Blanc was able to realise its greatest dream in the 1880s, when it began to be considered on a par with the first growths of the Médoc – and one of the most dependably fine wines in the world – by the wine trade and connoisseurs. Thus, in the latter half of the 19th century, Cheval Blanc was in the same price bracket as Margaux, Latour, Lafite, and Haut-Brion in Paris and London auction houses. The wine's reputation earned it a place at prestigious meals, major receptions, and state dinners.
After Jean Laussac-Fourcaud passed away in 1888, his widow inherited the estate. She, in turn, left it to her son, Albert, who had reversed his hyphenated family name by this time. Albert Fourcaud-Laussac perpetuated the work undertaken by his father and installed twelve wooden vats that were used until 1966. Major investments were made in the vineyard and selected old vines reproduced by mass selection.
Albert's two sons, Jacques and Joseph Fourcaud-Laussac, continued in their father's and grandfather's footsteps. The same cellar master was in charge at Cheval Blanc for 44 years – Gaston Vaissière poured his talent, energy, and enthusiasm into making the most of a terroir he considered "magical"...
Cheval Blanc obtained the highest possible distinction in the first classification of Saint-Emilion wines in 1954: Premier Grand Cru Classé "A". This exalted rank was confirmed in every following classification in each subsequent decade. Cheval Blanc became a member of the exclusive "Club of 9" comprising the first growths of Bordeaux.
A page was turned in autumn of 1998 when Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère, two old friends and lovers of great wine, joined forces to became the owners of this fabled château in Saint-Emilion. They injected a dynamic new spirit, while respecting the château's history and existing facilities. They also placed their complete trust in the winemaking team to continue their good work.  The priority today is the ultimate in quality, which calls for enormous attention to detail and precision winemaking
Furthermore, Cheval Blanc is resolutely turned towards the future. This is epitomised by the impressive new cellar adjacent to the château. Designed by Christian de Portzamparc, winner of the 1994 Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1994, this was completed in June 2011. Reflecting the desire of Baron Albert Frère and Bernard Arnault, this building is both futuristic and in keeping with the surrounding historic vineyard landscape listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Winegrowers have succeeded one another at Cheval Blanc for six centuries in the context of a "wine civilisation" some 2,000 years old. The wine from this estate is now a joy to men and women all over the world who are aware that a great growth such as Cheval Blanc is a treasure of voluptuousness and pleasure.



The exhibition Bistrot! From Baudelaire to Picasso takes place from March 17th until 21st June 2017. Containing around a hundred works, the aim of this exhibition is to highlight the essential role played by cafés and bistrots, convivial spaces, in creation and society from the 18th century until our days..
At times leaving France behind for the rest of Europe and the USA, combining traditional media with photography and cinema, it celebrates the living, fertile links between the world of the arts and the world of the café.
Exploring the broad range of situations created by cafés, from solitary drinker to pick-up scenes, from melancholic withdrawal to identity affirmation, from male exclusivity to female advocacy, the exhibition also examines what artists were trying to say about themselves and their time. From section to section, the mobile geography of these urban enclaves – open to all our dreams and all our encounters – leads the visitors back to themselves.
Both a space and a mood, the café has challenged artists since the age of Louis XV, from Voltaire’s Procope to the highly popular Ramponneau, to which Fichel’s large painting paid yet another emphatic tribute at the Exhibition of 1877. How do you render the interaction between light, bodies and glances which must enchant the eye of the spectator? How do you capture the atmosphere and the flow of affects? The 18th century, which saw a rise in the number of these places that were still inchoate, gave birth to an iconography with enduring echoes. Present in the works of the romantic writers and already a centrepiece of Daumier’s work, the image of the café saw a renewal in the 1860s and 1870s. The temples of wine symbolised the new sense of urban life and met the expectations of modernity defined by Baudelaire.  This wonderful observatory of contemporary morals gave birth to the aesthetic of transience. Whether luxury establishment or "boozer" worthy of Zola, each place possessed its own spirit which it imposed on the artists.  All the artistic leanings of the early 20th century, from Fauvism to surrealism had to "drink from the source" and confront the subject. More than any other social venue, cafés and bistros, dance halls and cabarets, even café-concerts, form the heart of our modernity.
In response to the bourgeois cafés of the Impressionists came the popularity of the workingclass pub. Zola brought his custom and his naturalist art here. In the wake of Daumier, Courbet and Bonvin, three close friends of Baudelaire, the 1880s and 1890s left a more plebeian mark on drinking taverns. However, all the images of the worker are not from the same ilk. Just as the Third Republic swung between liberalism and strict social regulation, the painters swayed between glorification and condemnation of the effects of alcohol, of which the café is the symbol, if not the hostage. Alongside these sinister watering-holes, there is a positive iconography of wine : the people’s nectar, invigorating nourishment in opposition to the idle classes’ champagne. This is the kingdom of plonk ; the wine of the barriers or the countryside, cheaper than in the city, the realm of the loose jacket and the cap. Léon Lhermitte provided the archetype in his large painting at the Exhibition of 1885, one of his masterpieces dear to Van Gogh. Wine and the people’s morale were reconciled at the shrine of makeshift cafés. In their own style, Dunoyer de Segonzac, Gromaire, Doisneau and Picasso in his "communist years" revived the worker’s drink, the red wine of simple pleasures.

Café au Bois de Boulogne, v. 1897-1898
Peinture à la Colle Sur Papier 
Besançon, Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie
© Photo: Charles CHOPPET

The Chap Book, 1895
Affiche Paris, Galerie Documents

Composition, 1929 - 1931
Huile Sur Carton 
Collections of Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko.
Artworks on Canvas by Mark Rothko
©1998 by Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko


The promiscuity of the sexes constituted one of the typical characteristics of the modern café, the pernicious vices of which certain artists, such as Pissarro, decried by ideology. The fruit of lucky magnetism, or mismatched, ephemeral or lasting, for a fee or for free, the couple penetrated the artists’ work and gave rise to all sorts of situations, from the most sensual to the most amusing. There were still very few women in the cafés painted by Boilly in the 1810s and 1820s. Manet, on the other hand, gave them his full attention. The incisive Forain provided him with an excellent counterpoint. From the 1870s and 1880s on, the focus often shifted to the solitary woman. This solitude, related or not to the theme of reading and writing, was a self-assertion, even when the image was tinged with melancholy. Foreign artists as much as French artists knew how to exalt this typical feature of our society and the emancipation it permitted before and especially after the First World War. Berlin in the 1920s, through Otto Dix’s masterpiece, provides a more extreme ground for emancipation. Less openly acerbic and in a style close to Hopper, the two paintings by Rothko and Guy Pène du Bois yield to the charm of elegant young ladies, a little dreamy in their cloche hats. Photography in the inter-war period was also besotted with women in cafés, alone or in groups, the provocation of their number adding to the audacity of their gesture.
A refuge or a stepping stone, the café can be seen as a metaphor for the artist in conflict, a bohemian or a dandy, who rapidly identifies with these places where atypical individuals and cultures meet. Far from being a synonym of poverty or rejection, this temporary or fictional marginality sees itself as a keeper of the freedom to think, create and live. Like the heroes of the fairground world dear to Picasso, barflies become figures of the rebellious artist, with neither a place nor a definite role in society.  A sort of paradoxical aristocracy... By closing up on the café as a sanctum and an allegory of the condition of the modern artist, the exhibition invites the public to question the reasons for this mythology, substituted today by the figure of the artist celebrated by the media and the market. Why, since the 1970s, do artists and writers not feel the same need to gather "at the café" and capture its image? In 1976, Renato Guttuso announced the decline, but not the end of these "secular pentecosts"! Moreover, certain artists continue to make the café one of the emblematic places of their creation, a place that is both open and closed, where the culture of pleasure and debate is elaborated. Eternal youth of cafés and wine bars!


La petite Lina, 1907
Huile Sur Toile,
Marseille, Musée Cantini
©Photo Claude Almodovar et Michel Vialle © ADAGP, Paris 2017



The Bassins à Flot site is one of the symbols of development in Bordeaux. Located between Chartrons and Bacalan, this former manufacturing hub is in a state of radical transformation: a huge 160-hectare construction site (including 22 hectares of water bodies, the eponymous basins) home to flourishing major projects and buildings. This will ultimately cover 700,000 m² with a mixture of housing, economic activity and public facilities springing up, just six tram stops from Place des Quinconces.
La Cité du Vin is in perfect keeping with the district’s ecological philosophy: every effort has been made to minimise the project’s environmental impact. 70% of La Cité du Vin’s energy needs are therefore covered by local and green energy sources. In addition, the architects have devoted considerable attention to optimising the building’s bio-climatic performance. Air inlets low down on the structure allow breezes to enter and create a current which ultimately pushes hot air out via the upper courtyard areas and outlets, thus optimising ventilation and reducing the need for air conditioning. Respectful of the environment and the ecosystem of the banks of the Garonne (a listed Natura 2000 Zone), the landscaped areas around the building will mimic the riverbanks to provide a touch of natural freshness and maintain a sense of continuity.
The building fits perfectly into the dynamics of the Bassins à Flot eco-district, and was designed to have a controlled environmental impact (in line with the High Quality Environmental standard). Here are a few examples:
70% of La Cité du Vin’s energy needs are covered by local and green energy sources • The building’s compact shape enables natural ventilation in summer (gain of 5 degrees, reduced air conditioning use) and limits heat loss in winter • The site can be reached via less CO2- heavy methods of transport such as tram, bicycle and on foot • The interior materials have an A+ rating to guarantee good air quality • The wood used comes from sustainably managed forests • The rainwater recovery tank is used to water and clean the area around the building • The composting area is used to treat waste from catering areas and organic waste
 In the fight against climate change, France has two priorities: energy saving and renewable energy.
With its plan for 5,500 housing units, the Bassins à Flot area will welcome more than 10,000 new inhabitants when completed, and feature flagship projects such as La Cité du Vin. In order to establish this area as an exemplary model in terms of energy, a heating network is the solution of choice.
Mixener and EDF Optimal Solutions have come together to design and install a heating network for this sustainable district. The network operator is Idex.
Across the territory, the heating network uses local resources: biomass, geothermics, energy recovery units and methanisation.
These local and clean solutions will save 8,000 tonnes of CO2 from being rejected into the atmosphere. Energie Des Bassins is owned by Régal-Bordeaux, via its Mixener subsidiary specialised in innovative heating networks, and by EDF Optimal Solutions, specialising in ecologically efficient energy solutions.



The Parisian agency XTU Architects was created by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières. Anouk Legendre trained at the Bordeaux School of Architecture. An encounter during a study trip and a personal bond formed soon grew into a professional partnership. Following experiences in Iceland, they began to develop a vision of a world ‘composed entirely of movement, of shifting forms’, where in some contexts ‘the curve has come to replace the line’. The bold lines and angles which had dominated previous high-profile creations such as the new Chemistry Department at Paris VII University (completed in 2008) now gave way to rounded forms inspired by the curves of the earth. The best examples are the Jeongok Prehistory Museum north of Seoul in South Korea (completed in 2011), the French Pavilion for the 2015 Universal Exposition in Milan, and La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux. Addressing each project’s intrinsic challenges, XTU’s buildings sometimes evoke a level of futurism. Constantly striving to plan ahead, the agency has its very own research and exploration department where intersection of knowledge sits at the forefront. This has for example led to the development of cutting-edge technology for photosynthetic facades which can grow microalgae, called ‘biofacades’, for which they hold numerous patents. These projects have been presented at numerous exhibitions and in various publications both in France and abroad.