Friday, August 8

The 8th ART - Le Huitième ART

Fragrance is the 8th Art 
Le Parfum est le 8ème Art

Before moving to Paris, I started my ph-D thesis and its theme was "the artistry of fragrances" where I wanted to explore the relation of perfume with the other arts and to integrate the fragrance in the classic system of arts. Some ideas are presented and developed on this blog considering Hegel's system of five ancient arts as expressed in Lectures on Aesthetics. Cinema is considered the 7th art and this label was given in 1919 by Ricciotto Canudo who published in 1923 the book "Reflections on the Seventh Art", after many other writings, starting with "The Birth of the Sixth Art" in 1911. I considered that perfume and movies had many things to share as modern artistic expressions. They also gave their best examples about the same period. They also share many similarities, from the studio concept to the distribution or the idea of "art for masses". Of course, perfume is much older, but the self awareness, the invention of the artist replacing the craftsman is rather a new concept. It slowly starts in the XVIIIth century with several minor examples, has a greater development in the XIXth century with the "invention" of some very important olfactory forms and the first examples of abstract thinking, but blooms in the XXth century when some important theoretical articles were printed, already in the 1910's-1920's.
The five classic arts are Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music, Poetry and we can see here rhythms of space (the visual arts) and rhythms of time (music, poetry). Dance is another rhythmic art while Cinema is a synthesis of the Rhythms of Space and Time. That's how Canudo saw the arts before the cinema.
In 1952, during a conference in Paris, the perfume is presented as the 8th art "Le Parfum dans le système des Beaux Arts".
"Fragrance is the 8th art". The Essence is a synthesis, but on a very different level - the micro cosmos and the "invisible" universe. I would say that this is the ultimate expression of Art because it happens deeply inside us, it is the Art where Form becomes Meaning. This transformation (or transmutation material-immaterial-meaning) represents the inner nature of a perfume. In ancient Mesopotamia some ziggurats had 7 stairs because the number 8 was already heaven. The number 8 was not used in ancient systems of classification (from the liberal arts to more modern systems) and I thought that the expression "fragrance is the 8th Art" could represent both a conclusion to our world (with 7 days, 7 sins and 7 virtues) and a new beginning. Our century is so different! From "the Word" our universe emerged, but with the scent we quit the "visible" outside and enter the "silent" inside. Fragrance has a unique position because it has not the dichotomy form vs. content. Like the Word (the first sparkle of the universe) the scent is pure content and has all the characteristic of a universal language.
The 8th wonder of the world is the invisible Temple built by perfumers and its foundations were built many years ago. Perfume is the sanctuary of the soul and the gate to the infinite Beauty. It is the magic drop that gives life to the previous Arts. 


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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art
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