The past century has seen Martell supporting the arts, in film, music, painting and sculpture. A natural extension of Martell's pursuit of excellence, the association of the fine cognac house with the world's leading fashion photographers include Paolo Roversi and Miles Aldridge's advertising-as-art campaigns for Martell Cordon Bleu. All of these contemporary artists share one thing in common with Martell: an unwavering commitment to the quest for perfection.
Besides ad campaigns, Martell has also founded the Martell Art Foundation in 2007, an ongoing initiative between the cognac house and the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, to support the development of Chinese contemporary art and art education in China. Another toast to the arts is the Martell Artists of the Year exhibition in China, an annual showcase of promising international artists in disciplines such as sculpture and painting.
Last year's Martell Artists of the Year award ceremony was held at the Beijing Today Art Museum on June 3, and marked the start of a nation-wide exhibition tour highlighting the work of the five award-winning artists: Sui Jianguo, a conceptual sculptor; Li Songsong, an oil painter whose canvases retrace historical memory; Hai Bo, a photographer who specializes in capturing historical change; and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, art, fashion and portrait photographers from Holland.
In Singapore, we have the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu, an award ceremony that aims to honor the best in local photography. The winner of the second ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu was photog Sean Lee, who at 25 years old was the youngest of the eight nominated artists for 2011.
Sean Lee edged out fellow finalists, John Clang and Zhao Renhui—both masters in their field—to clinch the title of Singapore's first and only juried photography award.
“Winning this award is extremely meaningful to me especially since it is one that was judged by an international panel made up of highly established and renowned individuals from the photography and arts scene,” said Sean Lee.
“Photography in Singapore is still at its infancy stage and it will require a lot of continued support from corporate and government organisations to elevate this art form into a level worthy of international standing. ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu is a great example of corporate organisations being able to make a difference to Singapore’s photography community.”
Indeed, support of the arts has become something like a traditiobn for Martell. Like the eponymous competition, the craftsmanship involved in creating the Martell Cordon Bleu is a loving work of art in itself.