Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Art As Scent: Jicky, Chanel No 5, Santal Massoïa": A Talk

Chandler Burr, Curator of the Department of Olfactory Art at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, former New York Times perfume critic, and author of two definitive non-fiction books about the perfume industry ~among many others, gave a talk on September 23rd at TEDx in Budapest re: his fundamental approach on “Scent As Art”. You can watch it on this TEX Danubia link or in the video embedded below (You will catch some fascinating insights into the newest Hermès Santal Massoia we announced on these pages a while ago).

He illustrates the approach by analysing three fragrances from different eras (NB.descriptors below are his):

- “Jicky” (1889) Aimé Guerlain
From the Collection of Guerlain
The paradigmatic work of turn-of-the-century French Neoclassic/Romanticism.

- “Chanel No 5” (1921) Ernest Beaux
From the Collection of Chanel
The first and greatest work of olfactory Modernism.

- “Santal Massoïa” (2011) Jean-Claude Ellena
From the Collection of Hermès
Ellena’s latest piece done in the school he leads, a work of Neo-Minimalism/ Luminism.

His talk however isn't exclusive of other classics and moderns: He includes a discussion on Germaine Cellier's work and her Fracas icon from 1948, Odeur 53 by Anne-Sophie Chapuis and Martine Pallix (1998) as a continuation of Brutalism, Untitled commissioned by Margiela (a 2010 Surrealist/ Neo-Brutalist work by perfumer Daniela Andrier), Edmond Roudnitska's 1949 Diorama as a consummate work of Abstract Expressionism and Francis Fabron's L'Interdit from 1958, bridging Classicism and Abstract Expressionism.


  1. Stephan17:36

    This talk by Chandler Burr is absolutely fabulous, when you realize the easiness with which his enthusiasm for the olfactory art comes across. I wish I could attend such events regularly. Thank you so much, Elena, for giving me this opportunity. You certainly made my day today. Actually this is what you are doing to me many times every month. Thanks indeed.

  2. Fascinating!! Thanks for posting this, Helg.

  3. Let me try this again...I loved that! Thank you! I recall a comment after an article somewhere her that basically slammed synthetics as terrible unsafe chemicals. Of course I completely disagree and in fact believe synthetics are very necessary to the perfumers art palette. I am sure naturals can also make art, but not at the expense of synthetics.

  4. Anonymous04:30

    Thank you so much for posting this. I've always enjoyed reading Chandler Burr's perfume reviews and journalism, but it was particularly interesting to hear him make his argument for perfume as an art form.

    -- Lindaloo

  5. Thanks for posting this, love Chandler Burr's thoughts & comparisons of perfume and art, makes you look at perfume in a different light.

    What is the perfume he mentions at 15:28? I couldn't understand the name.

  6. Sasha,

    He talks about the classic L'Interdit by Givenchy. :-)


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