Andy Goldsworthy’s Surface Tension stands 10 feet tall.
When museum director Robert Ceballos happened onto a stored crate of twigs at the Hess Collection, an eminent Napa Valley winery and art museum, he was baffled. “I thought they were vine cuttings, and I couldn’t imagine why someone would save them,” he says.
In fact, they were pieces of a work by British artist Andy Goldsworthy, who is renowned for his use of natural materials—in this case, leaf stems from a horse chestnut tree. Acquired in 1993 by collector Donald Hess, they remained boxed until last summer. Now pinned together again with the original hawthorn thorns, the stems form a delicate lattice—like brushstrokes suspended in thin air—that stretches from floor to ceiling.
The Hess Collection displays roughly 120 contemporary paintings and sculptures from around the world, including works by Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella, and Francis Bacon, as well as such lesser-known artists as painter Per Kirkeby and sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz, whose haunting burlap and resin figures stand guard in one gallery.
You can also savor the artistry of Hess’s distinguished vintners. Open daily. Winetasting is $10; museum entry is free. 4411 Redwood Rd., Napa, (707) 255-1144, hesscollection.com.
Photography courtesy Hess Collection
This article was first published in May 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.