Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

Andy Warhol Loved Perfumes So Much, He Created A 'Permanent Smell Collection'

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

Andy Warhol is probably best known for his Marilyn Monroe screenprints or his Campbell’s soup cans series, but he stamped his artistic imprint on quite a number of genres. He made dozens of movies (including Chelsea Girls and Sleep), founded Interview magazine, managed The Velvet Underground for a bit, and even coined a phrase—“15 minutes of fame”—that's still used today. And though his penchant for obsessive documenting and collecting is also well known, his particular fascination with scents might not be.

Warhol’s range of interests was both oddly specific and seemingly random in scope. He had large collections of Art Deco silver, Fiestaware, World’s Fair memorabilia, Hollywood publicity stills, crime scene photos, and dental molds. For nearly 30 years, from the early ‘60s until his death in 1987, he saved all of the seemingly inconsequential ephemera from his daily life—fan letters, newspapers and magazines, photos, business and personal correspondence, announcements for poetry readings, exhibition catalogs—in cardboard boxes he referred to as "Time Capsules." But perhaps one of the most unusual of Warhol’s collecting projects was his "Permanent Smell Collection." He had an affinity for smells, which he described in his 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again):

Another way to take up more space is with perfume. […] I switch perfumes all the time. If I’ve been wearing one perfume for three months, I force myself to give it up, even if I still feel like wearing it, so whenever I smell it again it will always remind me of those three months. I never go back to wearing it again; it becomes part of my permanent smell collection.

Warhol admitted he had a habit of sneaking away during parties to see what the host’s preferred scents were. He wrote that he wouldn’t snoop through any of their personal effects, he was just "compulsive about seeing if there’s some obscure perfumes" he hadn’t tried yet himself.


Later, Warhol reflected on the (arguably underrated) power of smell, as well as a scent’s ability to be a time capsule in and of itself:

Of the five senses, smell has the closest thing to the full power of the past. Smell really is transporting. Seeing, hearing, touching, tasting are just not as powerful as smelling if you want your whole being to go back for a second to something. … The good thing about a smell memory is that the feeling of being transported stops the instant you stop smelling, so there are no aftereffects. It’s a neat way to reminisce.

Warhol seemed to regard the wearing and collecting of perfume as an art form, a form of documentation, and a way of exerting more control over atmosphere and near-total control over nostalgia. Warhol began amassing his collection of semi-used perfumes in the early '60s. "Before that the smells in my life were all just whatever happened to hit my nose by chance," he wrote. "But then I realized I had to have a kind of smell museum so certain smells wouldn’t get lost forever."

By 1975, the year Philosophy was published, Warhol described his scent collection as "very big," though he wasn’t specific about how many bottles it comprised. We do know, however, that Warhol’s perfume connoisseurship continued for the rest of his life—he made several mentions of perfume throughout the Andy Warhol Diaries, which he stopped writing just five days before his death in 1987.

But what became of Warhol’s perfume collection? Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum, which calls itself the “global keeper of Andy Warhol’s legacy,” is the largest museum in the nation dedicated to a single artist, and it houses not only pieces of his famous work, but also an archive of his personal effects and many of his smaller-scale and lesser-known projects. (For example, the archives contain 3000 of Warhol’s audiotapes, presumably from the era when he compulsively recorded all conversations and referred to his ever-present tape recorder as his "wife.")

Warhol’s "Permanent Smell Collection" still exists, at least to some degree, according to museum spokesperson Jessica Warchall. "Warhol’s perfume collection comprises hundreds of hygiene and perfume products," Warchall told mental_floss in an email. "The products, from Warhol’s personal collection and from several 'Time Capsules,' are held in the museum’s archives." Among the semi-used perfumes in the museum’s archives are Halston spray cologne, Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet eau de toilette, Braggi International cologne, Ma Griffe by Carven, Paris by Yves St. Laurent, and Devin cologne by Aramis.

Warhol speaking with Elizabeth Taylor, who was also a connoisseur of perfumes. Getty

Warchall also pointed out that Warhol represented his love of perfume in his visual art, including commissioned silkscreens for both Chanel and Halston, as well as other earlier works such as a 1950s drawing titled "Cat with Perfume Bottle," a 1953 ink drawing called "Perfume Bottle," and a 1962 work titled "Perfume Bottles and Lipstick."

Eventually, this lifelong obsession with scents became a little more permanent than even Warhol might have intended. At his burial, a friend rushed over and tossed some copies of Interview magazine into his open grave—along with a bottle of Estée Lauder Beautiful.

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Pop Culture
Stanley Kubrick Photography Exhibition Opening at the Museum of the City of New York
Evening Standard/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Stanley Kubrick will forever be known as one of the most important film directors of the 20th century, but he started his career in the 1940s as a photojournalist for Look magazine. Now, the Museum of the City of New York will host a photographic exhibition of Kubrick’s early work, featuring 120 pictures from his time as a staff photographer at Look from 1945 to 1950.

Much of Kubrick’s work at the time revolved around daily life in New York City—the clubs, the commutes, and the sports. Some of his most notable pieces while at Look were his photo features on boxers Rocky Graziano and Walter Cartier, the latter of which became the subject of Kubrick’s first film, a 1951 documentary called Day of the Fight.

“Turning his camera on his native city, Kubrick found inspiration in New York's characters and settings, sometimes glamorous, sometimes gritty,” the museum wrote in a press release. “He produced work that was far ahead of his time and focused on themes that would inspire him through his creative life. Most importantly, his photography laid the technical and aesthetic foundations for his cinematography: he learned through the camera's lens to be an acute observer of human interactions and to tell stories through images in dynamic narrative sequences.”

Titled "Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs," the exhibition will detail the different themes that inspired Kubrick’s work, as well as guide patrons through his Look tenure, including both published and unpublished work. One of the exhibit’s goals is to provide an “examination of the direct connection between Kubrick the photographer and Kubrick the director.”

"Through a Different Lens" runs from Thursday, May 3 through October 28, 2018 at the Museum of the City of New York.

8 Expert Tips and Tricks for Hanging a Picture Right the First Time

Framed pictures are an inexpensive way to make a house feel like a home, and they can take a room from empty to finished-looking in minutes. They can be customized easily to your space and decor, and swapped out if your tastes change. But there is an art to hanging a picture the right way—without destroying your walls. Here’s what you need to know.


There are several steps you need to take before you get anywhere near a drill or hammer. First, consider two factors: the state of the wall you want to decorate, and the weight of the picture. Your wall may be supported by studs, which are pieces of wood or metal that run vertically behind the wall every couple of feet. Screwing directly into a stud can provide more support for hanging items.

If you have a reinforced wall, you could use a basic nail or screw to hang the frame, as long as you insert the nail or screw firmly into a stud. But you should only ever use a nail if you're hanging on a stud, according to Simon Taylor, owner-operator of T&C Carpentry in Whitby, Ontario. Otherwise, the weight of the picture could rip the nail out of the wall.

No stud? No problem. "If the picture is light, then a product like Monkey Hooks"—a kind of cantilevered hook for unreinforced walls—"work great," Taylor says.

For medium to heavy pictures, use wall anchors, which are plastic or metal inserts that provide more support for screwing into an unreinforced wall. There are many styles and strengths available for different materials and weights. “Using a product like E-Z Ancors is an easy way to fix a screw to drywall where there is no stud to screw into. They are strong and easy to install,” Taylor tells Mental Floss. “You can then thread a screw into them to hang your picture, providing it has a hook on the back or a string. A good rule to follow is not to use anything other than an anchor if you are not screwing directly into a stud or backing.” (Plastic wall anchors are fine for most lightweight projects, but for a really heavy picture, or a wall made out of something besides drywall, you'll need a different type of anchor.)

If you’re renting and don't want to damage the walls of your apartment, or you’re not 100 percent committed to the picture's placement, Taylor recommends a non-nail option like the extremely popular 3M Command adhesive hooks. They provide temporary, hole-free hanging and hold strong without peeling paint off the wall when it comes time to remove them.

Others argue that stick-on hooks can be unreliable, especially for heavier frames. “All picture-hanging hardware should really include some type of component that punctures the wall,” says Claire Wheeler, design and project coordinator for Montreal-based Sajo Inc. “This provides a much more secure hanging system than a hanging system that is surface-applied.” The adhesives on these types of products are more likely to fail than any sort of nail or anchored hardware, she tells Mental Floss.


Wheeler says your hanging hardware depends on the size and weight of the frame. Fortunately, most frame manufacturers include some form of hanger on the back of their products.

While she finds that hook tabs (small triangular hangers on ready-to-use frames) work for hanging lighter pictures, a wire system—two anchor points on the back of the frame and a strong wire strung between them for looping over the wall screw or hook—is the better choice for hanging large and/or heavy pictures. The wire system setup allows the weight of the frame to be distributed evenly along the wire for more secure hanging, rather than placing all the weight of the frame on one small hanger point.

“You will notice that most frames, whether you have purchased them in a store or you've had them custom-made, have hardware already installed at the back. It’s usually a pretty safe bet to use what the manufacturer has provided,” Wheeler says.

To hang a picture without the need for advanced math, start with a center hanging point: a hook tab affixed in the appropriate spot, or, if your frame has two tabs on either side of the frame, a wire strung slackly between them.


Assemble all of the gear before you spring into action. In addition to your framed artwork, you'll need the proper hanging apparatus for your project (see #1) and a hammer for pounding in the wall anchor or nail. Use a power drill or screwdriver to insert screws in the wall anchor, if you're using one. A tape measure makes it easier to calculate the right spot for hanging. A sturdy wire for the back of your frame is optional (see #2). And the best way to ensure your picture will be level is to, well, use a level. “A level is a basic tool everyone should have,” Wheeler says. “If you own a hammer, you should own a level.”


Wheeler says you should play around with the height at which you plan on installing the frame: “As a general rule, eye level should land within the bottom half of the frame,” she says.

From a designer’s perspective, Wheeler finds people often choose pictures that are either too big or too small in proportion to the wall area. “You want the picture to have some space to 'breathe,' so to speak, meaning a wall large enough that it doesn’t feel as though the picture is overcrowding the wall," she says. "On the flip side, you also don’t want a picture to look completely lost on a big wall."

She adds, "Proportion is important, but there’s no specific ratio" of picture size to wall area that could be considered a rule of thumb. Ultimately, you're the best judge of your space.


Place the frame against the wall where you want it to hang. "It’s a good idea to have someone with you to judge if it is in the right place," Taylor says. "Having a view of it in place before it’s 'fixed' to the wall will help you decide if it looks right."

After you've picked your spot, draw a short line with a pencil along the center of the frame's top edge as your reference line. If you're hanging a really large picture, get your assistant to hold it in place while you draw.


Lay the frame face-down on a flat surface. Place your wall fastener, such as the wall anchor or Command hook, in the appropriate hook tab or on the wire on the back of the frame and pull the wire taut. With a tape measure, measure the distance from the top edge of the frame to the center of the fastener.


Now back to the wall: Measure the same distance from the center of your penciled reference line down. Mark that spot with your pencil: That's where you're going to install your fastener.

If you're not using a wall anchor, simply affix an adhesive hook, hammer in a nail, or insert a Monkey Hook.

To install an anchor, drill a hole into the wall at the penciled point with a screw that is narrower than the anchor itself. (You don't want the anchor to be too loose in the wall.) Don't screw it too tightly. Next, reverse the drill's direction and pull the screw out. Insert the anchor, hammering it flush against the wall. Finally, drill the screw into the anchor—this action makes the anchor expand slightly and press against the drywall's innards, creating a more secure fit. Be sure to leave a bit of space between the screw's head and the wall so the picture's wire can be hooked over the screw. Hang the picture.


To make sure your picture is straight, rest the level along the top of the frame, against the wall. Then, adjust until the air bubble within the small tube of water is in the center of the tube, which indicates that the bar is parallel to the floor—and, therefore, that your picture is level.

Taylor says that not using a level and assuming the hanging hardware is set evenly on the back of a frame are the two biggest mistakes he sees people make. Pros often use laser levels, but Taylor says a water level will work just as well for most people.

Need some inspirations to get started? Consider hanging a few classic movie posters, printed patents for famed inventions, or a guide to cats.


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