The Art of Scent at the Museum of Arts & Design

Recently I was in New York and went to see The Art of Scent at ...

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Recently I was in New York and went to see The Art of Scent at the Museum of Arts and Design. As we build our fragrance area at Etiket I want to learn as much as I can about perfume and fragrance to be able to use that knowledge to curate a range of fragrances that will allow us to become a destination and resource for both niche and established perfume and fragrance collections.

I made it to the exhibit on a Saturday night at about 5 PM with only an hour to see, or should I say, smell the exhibit. The woman at the ticket counter assured me it was enough time and I paid my $15 and headed up to the 4thfloor. I found myself in a white cube with openings or indentations in the walls, which I could lean into and the fragrance would be dispensed, for me to smell.

The Art of Scent 1889-2012 is the first major museum exhibition to recognize scent as a major medium of artistic creation and fifteen artists who work in this medium.

The exhibition focuses on twelve works made between 1889 and 2012 and presents the work of some of the most significant modern and contemporary scent artists, including:

  • Ernest Beaux, who in 1921 used chemical compounds known as synthetic aldehydes in combination with a floral structure to create the first great modernist work with Chanel N ̊ 5;
  • Bernard Chant, whose Aromatics Elixir (1971) was one of the great mid-twentieth century works that brought America into the forefront of perfume creation;
  • Annie Buzantian and Alberto Morillas, who in using a carbon dioxide extraction in their influential Pleasures (1995), mainstreamed a major technological advance in the medium and altered olfactory design;
  • Oliver Cresp, whose Light Blue (2001) presents a straightforward “still life” of scents from the natural world without ornament or aesthetic subtext;
  • Jean-Claude Ellena, who pioneered a minimalist school in scent with works such as the light and brilliant Osmanthe Yunnan that have maximal impact; and
  • Daniela Andrier, whose Untitled (2010) is an ingenious neo-brutalist work that references nature both violently and abstractly.
  • Other works of olfactory art featured in the exhibition include: Jicky (1889) by Aimé Guerlain; L’Interdit (1957) by Fabrice Fabron; Drakkar Noir (1982) by Pierre Wargnye; L’Eau d’Issey (1992) by Jacques Cavallier; Angel (1992) by Olivier Cresp; and Prada Amber (2003) by Carlos Benaϊm and Clément Gavarry.

Each scent was selected by curator Chandler Burr to reveal the evolution of aesthetics in the medium or to illustrate major innovations in scent design. Among the innovations was the introduction of synthetic raw materials, which appeared in the late nineteenth century. Before then, the creation of scents was limited to only natural ingredients; synthetics transformed artisanal products into works of art.

What the above description does not tell you about is the magic of the fragrances and the simple process we are taken through as we make our way around the room experiencing the scents and the evolution of perfume in this century. The genius of the use of dry fragrances in this part of the exhibit allows the ‘sniffer’ to go from one scent to the next without bringing the scent with you. Once you move on, you leave behind the fragrance world you were in to then be taken to the next. Beside each fragrance is a short description including information on the creator behind it.

I’m newly married, and my wife is 23 years younger than me. I’m 55. In general, we have mutual understanding in all aspects expect for sex- here we can some disagreements. I had to seek help in the Internet, and found the information about Levitra on the website I think that men who have young girlfriends will understand me. I won’t try to advertise Levitra, but I should know that it really works. My sexy girl seems to be satisfied with the duration of our sex (it increased from 1 to 2 hours). And I don’t have any complex, which is very important.

When you finish in that room you move into another where the actual perfumes are in liquid form in petri dishes where you may dip blotters into the fragrance to smell in their true form or even try on your skin, the only real way to smell and experience a perfume. There are IPads that allow you to choose the notes that you smell in the fragrance and share what you find in a crowd source application.

As well, along one wall you may experience the various stages of development in Sophia Grojsman’s 1990 Trésor, via peel-and-sniff cards so you are able to see how a perfume evolves.

The whole exhibit took about 45 minutes to go through and allows those of us learning about fragrance to do so in a serious way but with whimsy and a lightheartedness that makes the art of scent understandable and approachable. If you are a perfume lover this is a must, and if you are not, this may just turn you into one.

The exhibit has been extended until March 3rd, 2013 and if you going to be in in New York it is well worth the visit.

Simon Tooley

Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
[email protected] 

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