Art is very serious and it's not about throwing a random stroke on a paper and call it masterpiece to the press. It is method and order under the impression of absolute freedom. Understanding complexity, being able to render the variety of elements with an unprecedented unity, deconstructing reality and reconstructing it within a new system, generating order but also creating the necessary contradiction which undermines the monotony is what an Artist does. It is also what a true Perfumer does. The rules for generating Beauty are identical, translating them is certainly not very easy because one has to master all these fields.
When I saw Jean Guichard almost 10 years ago in his office precisely at the angle of the "glass" building, I think I scared him. Architecture, pharmacy, art, literature and many apparently unrelated things do not pop up every morning at Givaudan Argenteuil in the old paradigm "we create perfumes for our clients". I loved his perfumes before I even knew he was the author (some perfumes haunts me without being at all my type). An artistic background is crucial in the new paradigm of creation because it opens new gates and something which was accessible to a very few number of perfumers in the past because of their education. An artistic background, which is totally different from an artistic sensibility, allows to manage both the subtlety of the detail and the whole picture - drawing the wrinkles of a curtain within a huge composition.
When I explain perfumes to small groups, I do it inside the Louvre in front of several paintings by Ingres and Delacroix located in the same room. They represent complementary notions to understand how a perfume works. Even if you take the avant-garde position of Malevitch you cannot avoid systematic odor composition. But all these elements from art theory are not taught in a perfume school, they are not even evoked. You will not find any of the ideas I developed on this blog inside ISIPCA, the most important perfumery school I graduated many years ago. Their importance however is crucial. It's not about being artistic, but something more complex called creativity. I enjoyed teaching design because the number of solutions I was given by the students was always impressive. If you enter an art school and see the works and themes, you'll be certainly amazed. An artist learns how to generate form+meaning and control them, he learns creation and its "tools" more than anything else. "Creation" is actually a language, spoken by a very small number on this planet. The ability to improvise like Mozart on any theme at any time, but preserving a delicate invisible thread (Ariadne in the Labyrinth) is the most important quality of a Perfumer in the New Order.
Many perfumers today lack both creativity and the ability to reinvent their tools when the world changes. With at least 2000 perfumes a year in 2020 and an increasing world population you can imagine that "being a perfumer" will dramatically change. Art is necessary for the perfume not for the press but for what it offers - the fountain of eternal youth in terms of original new ideas. Did you notice that only a very small number of perfumers possess today this amazing ability? They compose like Bach or Mozart and surf with amazing grace on the wind of change.
It's not about what the Perfume brings to the world of ART but more about what ART brings to the PERFUME. Is Oak moss a problem? I will not spend my life to defend an ingredient when people with more power did nothing. At home, more than 2000 km away from Paris, I have a piano and because I had not enough money to tune some of its 88 keys, I transposed some melodies I loved to avoid the "bad white keys". I discovered transposition and many musical elements when I was twelve and I thought it was extremely funny. I also think that everything should have a practical "conclusion", the reason why none of my texts is conceived as "philosophy". Today, with method and patience, everything from music, poetry and visual arts has a correspondence in perfume design. As I said many times in the past 6 years, Perfume becomes an ART once you believe it can be.
Did you enjoy my article? Sign up for updates about new fragrances, reviews of artistic perfumes and exceptional vintage masterpieces. I would be very happy if you would consider joining 1000 Fragrances, throughRSS feed,GoogleFriend connect, Facebook (more personal), or any other way that appeals to you.
Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art