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Guerlain Presents Vik Muniz

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz has created an installation for the exhibition “Materials: Journeys to the Frontiers of the Invisible” at Guerlain.

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Guerlain is pleased to present an exhibition at its flagship location, 68 Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Arranged in three parts, “Materials: Journeys to the Frontiers of the Invisible“, is a collaboration by the storied perfume and cosmetics house with the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, and Vik Muniz. The Brazilian artist has created a new piece for  the second section of the trilogy, “La matière sublimée” — “The Material, Exalted”.

From dust to diamonds to detritus, Muniz has long made his name by conjuring unexpected images from unlikely materials, such as detailed “collages” that are typically exhibited as large-scale photographs. Considering that he has worked with organic materials such as sugar, chocolate, and caviar, Muniz naturally gravitated toward flowers for the new piece. Working with House nose Thierry Wasser to identify the “raw materials used to compose Guerlain perfumes”, Muniz reveals the visual richness of these ingredients. The olfactory element remains paramount to the “painting” of a bee — the symbol of the House of Guerlain — which is made from these materials, which subtly represent an alchemical creation process.

The result is a kind of deconstructed floral arrangement: Presented on the flat plane of a pedestal, the two-dimensional “sculpture” changes over the course of the exhibition. The accompanying 1.80m photograph is displayed on the wall of the gallery, yet the first impression arises from the scent.

As the second of three parts, the new Muniz piece is bookended by two other chapters that further contextualize the raw materials that form Guerlain’s scents. “At the Origins of the Material” sets the stage with a photographic investigation into the four elements — air, earth, water, and fire — through photography. The third and final part, “Experience Material”, offers a virtual journey to the hallowed sources of key ingredients of Guerlain’s scents: jasmine from Tamil Nadu, India, and dark bee honey from Ouessant.

Materials: Journeys to the Frontiers of the Invisible” is on view at 68 Avenue des Champs-Élysées until August 28. A complementary exhibition of work by Vik Muniz is on view at the Maison européenne de la photographie, which has also organized the photography and video installation elements of the “Materials” exhibition.


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