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Chloe Effron

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

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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.

Getty

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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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Made.com
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Art
What the Homes of the Future Will Look Like, According to Kids
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Made.com

Ask a futurist what the house of tomorrow will feature and she might mention automatic appliances and robot assistants. Ask a kid the same question and you’ll get answers that are slightly more creative, but not altogether impractical. That’s what Made.com discovered when they launched Homes of the Future, a project that had kids draw illustrations of futuristic homes that served as the basis for professional 3D renderings.

According to Co.Design, the UK-based furniture retailer recruited children ages 4 to 12 to submit their architectural ideas. The doodles, sketched in pen, marker, and colored pencil, showcase the grade-schoolers' imaginations. Paired with each picture is concept art made with a 3D illustrator that shows what the homes might look like in the real world.

The designs range from colorful and whimsical to coldly realistic. In one blueprint, drawn by Ameen, age 10, a neighborhood of rainbow buildings and flowers float among the clouds. Another sketch by Ellis, age 7, shows a “home built to last” with titanium, bricks, a steel roof, and bulletproof windows. Some kids seemed less concerned with durability than they were with the tastiness of the infrastructure. Cherry-flavored bricks, candy windows, and a giant jelly slide were just some of the features built into the future homes. Sustainability was also a major theme, with solar panels appearing on two of the houses.

Check out the original artwork and the 3D versions of their ideas below.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Made.com.

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