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Inquisitive, open-minded and in tune with the beauty of the world
Inquisitive, open-minded and in tune with the beauty and cultures of the world, these are the qualities shared by Desmond Knox-Leet, Yves Coueslant and Christiane Montadre, the three lovers of beauty who founded diptyque.
Building on the shared philosophy of the founding trio, diptyque’s world view is continually enhanced through its many artistic partnerships. To celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2021, diptyque invited five internationally renowned artists to design an original artwork as part of its Grand Tour, the penultimate celebration of its very special anniversary year. The Grand Tour is a journey featuring five destinations, five artists and five exclusive artworks, which can be seen in September 2021 in an exhibition in Paris, and in pop-up exhibitions around the world. Art and diptyque are inextricably linked.
Coming from different cultures, disciplines and sensibilities, all the Grand Tour artists share a mutual interest in each other and the world around them. Their techniques and practices are wide-ranging, rather like the destinations they have been invited to pay tribute to. How do they see these destinations? How do they define them? The answers are given in five artistic proposals with a distinctly international outlook.
Un temps après la jeunesse
34 numbered pieces availableOrder
To pay tribute to Paris, the inaugural Grand Tour destination and birthplace of diptyque, the Maison called upon the internationally renowned Malagasy artist, Joël Andrianomearisoa, who was the first artist to represent his country at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Andrianomearisoa chose the French capital as it is a city that is very close to his heart thanks to the emotions it arouses in him and its influence. “Paris is a life force, not only in France but throughout the world. It is continually conversing with the rest of the world. People love Paris because they love the country, the architecture and the culture. The city embodies romanticism and beauty. It is an almost perfect aesthetic creation,” he explains. His project, entitled ‘Un temps après la jeunesse’ (a time beyond youth), is a tribute to Paris’ literary connections, as well as diptyque’s past and future.
“The title speaks for itself as ‘sixty’ is a highly symbolic anniversary. It means that much of a great story has already been written, but also that there are many chapters still to come. The project raises the question of how to reposition youth, and also how diptyque sees this new era.” Andrianomearisoa’s artistic proposal takes the form of a “narrative blending the present, future projections and melancholy”, printed on 34 banners placed in “a black box resembling a monolith and representing Paris as a novel, because Paris is a novel.” ‘34’ as in 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain, diptyque’s historic home and the numbered copies in this exceptional artwork, which has been perfumed by impregnating the paper with Olivia Giacobetti’s L’Escale fragrance that captures the scent of waxed wood in antique shops, Parisian cobblestones and the pages of old books enhanced with a smoky note reminiscent of tobacco and the city’s log-burning fires. Andrianomearisoa adds, “For me the perfume of Paris must be complex. Paris is synonymous with agreements and disagreements. Paris is a paradox. It can be quiet, or aggressive and noisy. This fragrance manages to evoke the city’s soundscape and its urbanity. The fragrance escapes from the monolith as soon as you open it. It is immaterial and intangible until we discover the story and writing that arouses our emotions and memories, and creates a projection.”
24 numbered pieces availableOrder
The second guest artist is one of the greatest contemporary sculptors. He is a pioneer in the innovative use of ceramics and the first Belgian artist to be honoured at the Louvre Museum in 2005. His name is Johan Creten. The choice to give him Venice, a city much loved and visited by diptyque’s founders, was an obvious one. Famous for his large allegorical bronze sculptures, the Paris-based artist is a lover of nature, the art of perfume and Venetian bronzes, of which he is a passionate collector. “Venice is the city of all fantasies, it’s a mirage, a spectre, a siren, a city of raw vivid beauty that is both decadent and exuberant. It is a crossroads where myriad artistic influences come together, but it is also a dense and complex economic reality defined by dynamism and decline.”
The artist created a bronze sculpture for diptyque called La Laguna, which is immersed in a 1.5-kilogram, four-wick candle made of blue-tinted glass whose translucent blue-green wax -- reminiscent of the ominous acqua alta that has recently become clear again -- gradually melts to reveal his sculpture of the female icon. As it burns, the scented candle gradually reveals Creten’s sculpture. Its fragrance, which was created by Cécile Matton, evokes all the freshness of a kitchen garden accentuated with marine notes. In addition to the artist’s initial idea of a kitchen garden in Venice, he also wanted to add “the smell of the sea, a hint of iodine, a light, indefinable smell as fresh as the wind that skims over the water as you sail past Torcello in a vaporetto combined with the aroma of cooking and gardens.” Gradually emerging from her waxy waters, La Laguna symbolises for the artist “the passage of time, the fragility of Venice’s ecosystem and her mystery.” An excellent memento mori that, once used, leaves a vivid trace of its passage in a limited edition of 24 examples to be cherished for a long time, “a small object with an independent life, which makes you dream and question yourself.”
The Cave of Chiron
15 numbered pieces availableOrder
To evoke Greece, the chosen land and essential source of inspiration for diptyque’s founders, the Maison commissioned Zoë Paul, the South African painter and sculptor. Born in London but now living in Athens, the artist has a deep connection to Greece, its history and its art, which is reflected in her use of ancient materials and forms. For diptyque, she went to Milies, the third destination in the Grand Tour. “What struck me most was the profound spirituality of the place. The church in the village square, a vast stone edifice with a slate roof built in the local Ottoman architectural style. Inside, the odour of incense, golden bas-relief, mythological scenes painted on the walls by a priest from Mount Athos, and icons glistening in the flickering candlelight. In Greek mythology, Milies is where the centaur and healer Chiron lived and practised herbal medicine. Following a village path, I came by chance upon the Cave of Chiron. It was fringed with laurel bushes and small purple wild irises at the time of my visit. The interior of the cave was even more sepulchral than it first appeared.”
The genius loci inspired her exclusive limited edition of 15 pieces: a small curtain of ceramic beads - her signature - fired using the traditional Japanese raku technique, which gives each bead a different colour and creates a textured effect, topped by a pewter crown. “I wanted to integrate the orthodoxy of Greek culture and so I asked a reliquary maker from Mount Athos to design it. The beads of the curtain depict a hand, which is a reference to Chiron. It is also a sacred symbol that means care, love and art. This part of the body particularly attracts me as it is the hand that makes tools, heals and touches others. It is sensual.” The Cave of Chiron artwork, which can be hung or placed, contains a porcelain disc that releases a fresh warm scent created by Olivier Pescheux, which evokes this Greek seaside town with its cypress, fig trees and immortals. For Zoë Paul, “The fragrance is a direct memory trigger, its ephemeral aspect can transport us to deeply personal places. It is sensual and highly evocative. It enhances the beauty and wildness of nature and can take us to places hidden deep within our subconscious.”
Fragrance of Infinity
Kankitsuzan x Hiroshi Sugimoto
15 numbered pieces availableOrder
“A trip that crossed the mountains and invites us to Japan by KANKITSUZAN x Hiroshi Sugimoto”
Hiroshi Sugimoto, the fourth invited artist for Le Grand Tour, is a contemporary artist living in New York and Tokyo. KANKITSUZAN is a fertile land on the hillside facing the bay of Sagami in Odawara City. As the name suggests, citrus fields spread out on the hill, and it is also the name of the agricultural foundation that Sugimoto established in 2011. The view from KANKITSUZAN became the source of this artist’s edition. Sugimoto says, "This scene was the first memory of my childhood when I first encountered the sea, which later led me to the photographic series, Seascapes. The Enoura Observatory, located in KANKITSUZAN, is a facility that I have spent 20 years planning and designing, and I would like to use this as a way to convey the quintessence of Japanese culture to a wider audience.” For the Le Grand Tour, Hiroshi Sugimoto created Fragrance of Infinity, the bottle for which was inspired by the Mathematical Model installed in the bamboo grove of KANKITSUZAN. The room fragrance poured into the bottle is specially crafted by Diptyque. This fragrance reproduces the air and scent in the hills of KANKITSUZAN, where the relationship between humans and plants that has endured since the birth of human beings is reaffirmed. Backed by poetic expression and meticulous craftsmanship, the Artist Edition symbolizes the wonderful harmony of art and nature that Diptyque has cherished.
KANKITSUZAN is the name of a hilly area on the cape facing Sagami Bay in Odawara City. KANKITSUZAN is also the name of an agricultural foundation in this area. Hiroshi Sugimoto, a contemporary artist who named this hilly area "KANKITSUZAN", created the Enoura Observatory in 2017 in an effort to convey the quintessence of the Japanese culture to a wider audience. He has also been trying to revitalize the adjoining abandoned farmlands by utilizing the power of nature to produce agrochemical-free products.
Born in Tokyo in 1948, Hiroshi Sugimoto moved to the United States in 1970 to study photography. A multi-disciplinary artist, Sugimoto works in photography, sculpture, installation, performing arts, architecture, gardening, and gastronomy. Sugimoto’s artworks have been exhibited around the world and are in numerous public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Sugimoto was the recipient of the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2001. He was awarded the 21st Praemium Imperiale in 2009, given the Medal with Purple Ribbon by the Japanese government in 2010, and conferred the Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (The Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government in 2013. He was also honored as a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government in 2017.
15 numbered pieces availableOrder
The last prestigious Grand Tour guest is an haute couture designer with his own fashion house. Rabih Kayrouz is famous the world over for his dresses with their fluid yet formal styling, as well as for the sophisticated, sensitive and poetic universe he inhabits. For the Grand Tour, diptyque invited him to create an artwork inspired by Byblos, a city near to where he grew up and that has fascinated him since boyhood. “It was the only historical place I could visit at the time. This city has always held a dreamlike quality for me; I was always trying to understand how people lived there in ancient times. It conjures up so many memories and fantasies.” The designer had fun working with ceramics for the occasion. “I already sculpt in the sense that I shape material and fabric around bodies when I’m designing my dresses, but using ceramic was a first for me. I had a lot of fun with it.”
His story started like this: what would Desmond have brought back from Byblos? “To leave and then return with something tangible from his journey so as to never leave the journey behind. Desmond’s approach really appealed to me and fits with the way I like to create as all my inspirations come from stories or real-life situations.” In a cedar box repose three small sculptures, similar to the artefacts that the founders of diptyque might have brought back from their travels: the fragment of a model of a temple, a fossilised poppy, a flower that is found in the nearby valley of Adonis where Rabih Kayrouz was born, and a gold fragment of a cedar crown that might have belonged to the King of Byblos, a tribute to the forest that was used in ancient times to build the wonders of the world, and whose cedarwood was shipped from Byblos, the oldest port in the world.
For diptyque, the designer created his very own box of wonders called Secretum, “with perfect angles, without any affectation, and sealed with a lead wire”; one of the objects contained within is scented with Byblos, a fragrance created by Fabrice Pellegrin. “This authentic perfume brought back many memories; the smells of coffee and cedarwood, which for me are highly evocative of Lebanon,” Kayrouz concludes.
Joël Andrianomearisoa, Johan Creten, Zoë Paul, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Rabih Kayrouz have created five original works of art for a journey with five stop-overs: France, Venice, Greece, Japan, and Lebanon.
All these artist editions have a perfume from elsewhere…a diptyque perfume.
The artworks are available for sale in very limited quantities.