Jean-Claude Ellena
A Retrospective

Chandler Burr in conversation with Jean-Claude Ellena

Stazione Leopolda

One of the most important and influential artists of the Iate 20th and early 21st centuries, Jean-Claude Ellena (b. 1947) has in his forty-three year career not merely created landmark masterworks. Ellena changed the state of the art multiple times. He pushed the medium of scent to take forms, convey meanings, and express ideas no other artist had before, and he remains arguably unequaled in the variety of aesthetic schools that he both pioneered and mastered.

Ellena will be the special guest of Pitti Fragranze with the first major retrospective exhibition dedicated to him, curated by Chandler Burr, perfume critic and ambassador of Pitti Fragranze
The olfactory masterpieces of his career and a series of images that trace the life of the master will be at the center of an experiential installation inside the Stazione Leopolda. On this special occasion there will also be a conversation / interview moderated by Chandler Burr, to tell the ineffable history of his perfumes, and the presentation of his latest, unmistakable creation, "Rose & Cuir" for Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle.

“This first ever retrospective of Ellena’s career from 1976 to 2019 presents fifteen of the artist’s most seminal works” says the curator Chandler Burr. “Some are important because they established the art medium firmly within entire aesthetic schools: Bulgari Eau de Thé Vert (1993) was the first great work of Minimalism in scent; L’Eau d’Hiver (2003) is one of the medium’s seminal works of Abstract Expressionism”.

“Taken as a whole, however, the works that span these four decades recount an extraordinary evolution in the artist, one he continues. Ellena has had a lifelong chamaleon-like ability to self-reinvent, to not merely experiment with new aesthetic approaches but to develop and create new compositional techniques and structures. Ellena executed his first widely recognized work, First (1976), in classic early 20th-century Romantic style, then after creating that great work of Minimalism he did In Love Again (1998), a masterpiece of neon Fauvism. Angélique Sous La Pluie (2002) is Photorealism. With Kelly Calèche (2007) Ellena experimented in Post-Realist terms. In these works are both the arc of an artist and the arc of a life.