Perfume for Art’s Sake

With all the talk (and parodies) surrounding Chanel’s choice of Brad Pitt to be its latest N°5 spokesperson, it should be noted that that’s precisely the kind of marketing that will be excluded from a small but groundbreaking exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design.

The Art of Scent 1889-2012, touted as the first major museum exhibition to recognize scent as an artistic medium, is a perfume purist’s delight. Curated by the noted nose Chandler Burr, the show examines twelve landmark olfactory works made between 1889 and 2012, for example Jicky (1889), Chanel N°5 (1921), Osmanthe Yunnan (2006), and Daniela Andrier’s Untitled (2010). Each of the twelve fragrances has been stripped of its original packaging, advertising and even flacons, existing solely as an atomized mist spritzed from a gallery wall.

The idea is to educate museum-goers on the artistic merits of fragrance, but at the very least, they can theoretically douse themselves with an expensive juice before a big date. Please no bogarting the scent.

The Art of Scent 1889-2012, Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), 2 Columbus Circle, NYC, November 13, 2012 – February 24, 2013

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