If you revisit the short roster of talented artists who have collaborated with Hennessy on limited-edition bottle labels, there is at least one obvious thread that connects them all. KAWS, Futura, Os Gemeos, and Shepard Fairey each have roots in so-called “urban art,” but to relegate them to that world exclusively ignores their complex perspectives. Some of Ryan McGinness’ public art projects have lived (briefly) on the streets, but it is unlikely that anyone would check that box when attempting to categorize his work. Critical acclaim is something that puts the New York-based artist in conversation with the other guys, but there are other criteria required to represent such an iconic brand. So what makes Ryan McGinness the perfect fit for the artist label series?
In our recent interview with McGinness, following the announcement and unveiling of the label, he spoke about the parallels he found between his work and the process of making high-quality cognac. “I make these little drawings, which I call elements, and then I combine these little elements into compounds. This is the same process in chemistry. Compounds are used to make mixtures, which are like the paintings and sculptures and installations. All my work gets distilled down to these little elements. I found that same process in the making of cognac.”
In previous interviews, McGinness has referred to the symbols he creates as “visual puzzles,” and says that through his process of art making, he is searching for “one final solution…the truth.” With a legacy 250 years deep, Hennessy has its chemistry down, yet they still refine, taste, and blend everyday to get one step closer to perfection—an inevitably unattainable goal. Both Hennessy and McGinness place a lot of stock in the process of creating their mixtures, not just the final product.
Ryan McGinness is undoubtedly an accomplished and unique artist, but it is his layered, contextual approach to art making that makes him a fitting collaborator with Hennessy.