Beauty Buzz | The Art of Scent at MAD

Fragrance isn’t always appreciated for the artform it is, but now, 12 historic scents are displayed in “The Art of Scent 1889-2012” at the Museum of Arts & Design (MAD), thanks to Chandler Burr, the curator in change of MAD’s department of “olfactory art”. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Burr revealed that, “The fundamental goal of the department is placing scent as an artistic medium alongside painting, sculpture and music.”

The evolution of modern perfumery is charted through 12 fragrances:
Jicky (1889) by Aime Guerlain
Chanel No.5 (1921) by Enest Beaux
L’Interdit (1957) by Francis Fabron
Aromatics Elixir (1971) by Bernard Chant
Drakkar Noir (1982) by Pierre Wargnye
Angel (1992) by Olivier Cresp
L’Eau d’Issey (1992) by Jacques Cavallier
Pleasures (1995) by Annie Buzantian and Alberto Morillas
Light Blue (2001) by Olivier Cresp
Prada Amber (2004) by Carlos Benaim, Max Gavarry, Clement Gavarry
Osmanthe Yunnan (2006) by Jean-Claude Ellena
Untitled (2010) by Daniela Andrier

But how to translate such an evanescent art form? The firm Diller Scofidio & Renfro came up with a minimalist white space. 12 curved indentations invite the viewer to lean in and experience a puff of the fragrance. The puff is designed to stay in place for four seconds without spreading across the room. Each label is projected onto the wall, fading and reappearing, mimicking the movement of scent. Retailers and fragrance brands take note! This is an interesting, discreet way to present scents without having them travel and merge together in an open space.

Having meandered through the displays, there’s also a space to experience the 12 scents by dipping blotters into dishes filled with the scents. This allows viewers to journey with the the scent in its development through various stages. And if you happen to visit on a Thursday, olfactory artist Ralf Schwieger (the nose behind Thierry Mugler Womanity, Hermes Eau des Merveilles, Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, among others) will be at the Open Studios to talk and answer any questions.

The exhibit is up until February 24, 2013.


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