Scent as a medium in contemporary art

Artist and writer Catherine Haley Epstein, provides an overview on the role of scent in contemporary art  on Temporary Art Review. What is interesting is the broader storyline:

“Scent is invisible and profoundly effective in engaging audiences. A painting would never overwhelm the audience – one can simply look away or close one’s eyes. A scent is most direct, affecting our limbic system instantaneously. One must leave a room should an odor overwhelm or disagree with them. Conversely, one may be drawn directly to a scent that triggers their curiosity, their hearts and their minds at once. This makes for a powerful tool in an artist’s arsenal. Much like music can soothe or irritate, scent can explain the vibe of the apocalypse, a garden party or a revolution much more quickly than a painting one might argue.”


Marcel Duchamp, “Air de Paris”, 1919 / 1939. Image courtesy Succession Marcel Duchamp / Adagp, Paris 2014.