new-york

View of “The Art of Scent: 1889–2012,” 2012.

“The Art of Scent: 1889–2012”

MAD - Museum of Arts and Design

View of “The Art of Scent: 1889–2012,” 2012.

Baudelaire, whose soul soared “on perfume as other men’s souls soar on music,” devoted a notable portion of his literary genius to the question of how one might translate olfactory experience into language. His 1857 poem “Correspondences,” for example, routes a consideration of the relationships between the physical and the spiritual through a synesthetic inventory of scent and sensation: “So perfumes, colors, sounds may correspond. / Odors there are, fresh as a baby’s skin, / Mellow as oboes, green as meadow grass, / —Others corrupted, rich, triumphant, full, / Having dimensions infinitely vast, / Frankincense, musk, ambergris, benjamin, / Singing the senses’ rapture, and the soul’s.”

“The Art of Scent: 1889–2012,” on view at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design and organized by Chandler Burr, aligns itself firmly with such Baudelairean concerns. The elegantly staged show is

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