Scott Gundersen is popping a lot of bottles to create his corky masterpieces.

By Max Bonem
Updated July 10, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of Scott Gundersen

Wine and art go together beautifully. In fact, half the reason to attend a gallery opening is the ample supply of wine offered to attendees (and cheese too, of course). However, what about when wine and art literally come together as one? That’s the question artist Scott Gundersen answers with his museum quality portraits made entirely out of vast sums of wine corks.

Over the past ten years, Gundersen has gained notoriety for his massive commissioned cork-based portraits that have included the likes of Courtney Cox, famous authors like Gabriel García Márquez and both the King and Queen of Spain. His corky work graces the halls of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and can be viewed at Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museums in London and San Francisco as well.

"Every cork tells a story," he says. "Sitting in the studio, sifting through boxes of corks, I start thinking about the origin of the cork, the drinking of the wine, what happened the night that wine was shared among friends. My portraits, like people, are made up of thousands of stories."

While the finished works are absolutely awe-inspiring, the logistics behind each piece is astonishing in its own right. Gundersen has used close to a quarter of a million wine corks over the past decade to create these stunning works. Along the way, he’s collected corks from friends, family members, co-workers and, most recently, a cork recycler in Austin, Texas as well.

Gundersen's next commissioned work comes from Big Cork Vineyards in Rohrersville, Maryland, where from July 8-16, he'll carefully arrange 14,000-16,000 corks to create a portrait of the vineyard’s head winemaker. The project will take 65-80 hours to complete and patrons are welcome to watch Gundersen work on-site as he creates a new masterpiece.