Friday, November 30, 2012

The Art of Scent

 Last night I went on a tour of the first ever perfume exhibition with no bottles, no ingredients, no videos in the new olfactory arts department at the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle.

 The new exhibit, The Art of Scent is the creation of perfume critic and author Chandler Burr. I was enthralled with his The Perfect Scent a few years back.

 "The fundamental goal of the department is placing scent as an artistic medium alongside painting, sculpture and music" Burr said. "The greatest scents are not recognized as works of art, and the artists who create them are not recognized as artists.” Presented in 2 galleries, the first is bare walled except for 12 curved indentations emitting 12 perfumes from 1889 through 2012 by top perfumers like Jicky by Aime Guerlain, Chanel N.5 by Enest Beaux, L'Interdit by Francis Fabron...

 Drakkar Noir by Pierre Wargnye, Angel by Olivier Cresp, L'Eau d'Issey by Jacques Cavallier etc.

 These scent diffusion machines usually found at industry shows. When a visitor leans in an electric eye is set off causing a burst of fragrance that lasts 4 seconds. This highly interactive installation was designed by Elizabeth Diller (The Highline) of Diller Scofidio and Renfro.

 In the next room the same 12 perfumes are available in liquid form

 Labeled touches,the paper blotter strips perfumers use to dip into recessed wells of perfume on the glass table

 Are you dying to dip and sniff?

 It's tremendous fun and educational in the most sensuous way

 A pure experience without distracting glam packaging, glitzy stars or romantic videos we usually associate with perfume. Just your nose and your senses are engaged.

 There's a handy free guide on the perfumes and their creators.

 Plus the limited edition catalog out soon including samples of 11 perfumes on display.

 Chandler told us the US has a population of 300,000,000 and sells 50,000,000 bottles of perfume annually. France, with a population of 60,000,000, sells 60,000,000 bottles of perfume annually.
C'est comme ca!

Infused with perfume I stepped out the door of The Museum of Art and Design into Columbus Circle. Everything is glowing including me.
The Art of Scent is on till February 24, 2013.
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019


Prairie Jill said...

What a fascinating exhibit! I'd never thought of scent as an art. Love it! Love those lights outside, too. I am definitely going to have to get to New York one of these days! In the meantime, I'll just head to the department stores and sniff their perfumes!

Parisbreakfasts said...

Yes it's wonderful to go to an exhibit, close your eyes and just sniff...

Foodwalker said...

Gorgeously tempting like one of your best Paris pastry posts!
Who knew?

Merisi in Vienna said...

Wonder how fast the limited edition catalog will last, seems like an irresistible souvenir of a great place!

Louise said...

What an intriguing exhibition. I'd like to sniff the wall there. I can't help thinking that that table with the 12 perfumes would be mixed up and confusing, but I'm sure that they've set it up so it's not.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

I love many French perfumes, but due to allergies they have to be the original kind made from fleurs, not chemicals.The acknowledgement of the art of scent is overdue.

Have you seen the comic film Prête-moi ta main, about a perfumer ("name for... an expert creating perfume compositions, sometimes referred to affectionately as a Nose (French: le nez) due to their fine sense of smell & skill"). Very funny film.

PS: I think the bag in the 3rd photo is a work of art!

Louise said...

So funny ! I've never seen that before !

Jeanette, Mistress of Longears said...

Smells like a winner!

Parisbreakfasts said...

I LOVED that movie!!
I bought it too
I didn't even notice that bag!
Now if it was a pastry...

Parisbreakfasts said...

It's a first time exhibit, but it will be continuing at the museum with new perfumes going forward.

Parisbreakfasts said...

The white paper 'touches' are labeled as is the recessed perfume in front.
No way to mix them up.
I just didn't want to throw them away and put them in my bag which now smells heavenly.

Cris, Oregon Artist said...

I thought for a moment those Women were banging their heads against the wall. :) Love the last photo of those lit trees where the cars are pulling away. Lovely. This post reminds me of one time, when my Mom was alive, when we went shopping in the perfume department and spritzed ourselves with several types of perfume then she had to go right to the Dentist for an appointment. She apologized profusely saying she wasn't thinking when we did this sampling. He said, with out batting an eye..Oh good I thought maybe you had taken up a new business. groan.

Connie said...

Oh wow. I would love this. I have an unusually strong sense of smell. Chandler Burr is speaking to ME! If I can only get to New York by February....or maybe the scent will carry out here to the west coast!

Parisbreakfasts said...

It's a special installation so I think you'll have to come here but I think it will be a permenant department at the museum.

Parisbreakfasts said...

Perfume is about memories and nostalgia

Nikon said...

Great shots - I love the folks poking their heads into the wall :)
The last pic is my favorite!
Have a great weekend!

Manda said...

How cool is that?!
So glad you've shared this experience with us.

Eat Cake

T.L. said...

Lucky you to get photos there.
A few years ago when they opened, they would absolutely NOT let me shoot anything in that building...even the building itself

Parisbreakfasts said...

A few years ago everyone didn't have iPhones perhaps?

Little Pieces of Light said...

I loved that little fun fact about perfume sales in the US vs. France. I am not surprised! The French (both men and women) like their scent. I think I've racked up 6 bottles of perfume since I moved to Paris alone.

This exhibition looks brilliant btw! I hope it travels over to Europe sometime - do you know if it will?

x Milsters


Little Pieces of Light said...

PS I noticed that we now have the same font for our post headings! Great minds think alike :)

Parisbreakfasts said... ain't
But in different browsers it changes :(
Soooo annoying
La di da

french said...

What a fascinating design...smelly walls. I little bit of France here at home is always a treat. Today, I'm going to a cooking class in Fort Worth hosted by Ellise Pierce ( as she promotes her new cookbook. French hors d'oeuvres vs American appetizers...should be tasty. x Katie

french cravings said...

PS Ellise is a Paris-based writer,chef, Texan.

A Brush with Color said...

sounds fun, Carol! Which one did you like the best?

Parisbreakfasts said...

it wasn't about which is the best.
rather a discovery experience for the senses - very intense!

Chandler Burr said...

Hi Carol,
Thank you so much for this!
It's great!!
Mom sent it to me even before I got your email.

Parisbreakfasts said...

THANK YOU for the wonderful whirlwind tour Chandler!

Carole said...

Looks like a great experience.

Jill @ MadAboutMacarons said...

Sounds like a fascinating experience, Carol. Amazing, we watched 'Le Parfum' of Suskind the other day. What a spooky film but makes you appreciate the talent of ze nose!

H said...

Fascinating, thanks for the coverage!
- From far away in New Zealand.