Events — Oct 12, 2018

In this edition of Stedelijk Statements, Caro Verbeek examines the relationship between art history and scent. The program is accessible for blind and visually impaired people.
Museumticket + €3
Teijin Auditorium
Oct 12, 2018, 7 pm until 9.30 pm
Main language

Caro Verbeek is the fifth edition of a series of programs under the title of Stedelijk Statements. For each edition, an artist, art critic, expert or cultural entrepreneur compiles an evening event in the Stedelijk Museum. The program maker is invited to illustrate his or her vision on visual arts and design based on new artistic or scientific research, in combination with a program consisting of lectures, debates, performances and film screenings.

Caro Verbeek is an art critic, curator, lecturer and researcher specialized in the sensory dimension of 20th-century art history. Her research contributes to a reconstruction of this art history, which is generally presented from the perspective of visual perception. Caro instead concentrates on the ‘lower’ senses such as smell, touch, taste, proprioception and sensory phenomena such as synesthesia.

This edition of Stedelijk Statements examines the relationship between art history and scent. Since 2014, Caro Verbeek has been working on a PhD on the subject of the role of scent during the avant-garde era, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum and IFF. Her lecture will be followed by a lecture by olfactory artist Peter De Cupere, literature scholar Piet Devos, and a performance by the artist-choreographer Amy Toner, which will be scented live by aroma jockey Scentman. During the intermission, visitors will have the opportunity to smell different moments in art history.  The evening concludes with a discussion between Caro Verbeek, Piet Devos, Peter De Cupere and Amy Toner. Together they will explore the possibilities and challenges of presenting, critiquing, preserving and reconstructing historical and contemporary olfactory art in the museum.


— Andy Warhol, 1975

An art museum is generally visually oriented and deodorized. However, this does not reflect the multi-sensory reality of art history. From the end of the 19th century on, artists increasingly incorporated the sense of smell in their Gesamtkunstwerken. This trend especially took flight among the Futurists and Surrealists, with phenomena such as aromatic dances, olfactory cinema, fragrant toys, perfumed sculptures, and even comprehensively scented rooms. These intentionally added scents are part of our material but ephemeral art historical heritage. By presenting and critically examining olfactory reconstructions, a more complete picture of art history emerges, while at the same time challenging the traditional western ocular-centered attitude.

The program is accessible for blind and visually impaired people. We provide extra assistance during the event. Please find a plan of the museum for visitors for with reduced mobility here. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Edward Kienholz, The Beanery, 1965. © Nancy Reddin Kienholz/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Doors open
Introduction and lecture by Caro Verbeek, ‘In Search of Lost Scents’
Performance by Amy Toner and Maroula Iliopoulou, ‘Beneath Her Eyes’
Intermission > smelling sessions
Lecture by Piet Devos: Exploring the ‘lower’ senses in Surrealism and disability aesthetics
Lecture by Peter de Cupere ‘Smell as an artistic medium in the context of the contemporary museum'
Round table discussion


Caro Verbeek 

Caro Verbeek is an art critic, curator, lecturer and researcher specialized in the sensory dimension of 20th-century art. She previously worked at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum, before switching to an academic career.

Verbeek is currently working on her PhD, In Search of Scents Lost - (Re-)constructing the Aromatic Heritage of the Avant-garde. She researches the olfactory dimension of futurism and surrealism at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in collaboration with the IFF (International Flavours & Fragrances) and the Rijksmuseum, and with the support of the NWO. Her goal is to reconstruct a more sensory history of art by collecting, reconstructing and presenting sensory and ephemeral heritage. In 2015 she published the book Something in the Air - Scent in Art about olfactory art in the 20th and 21st century. This was accompanied by an exhibition under the same name in Villa Rot, Germany. Since 2010 she also teaches the course ‘The Other Senses’ at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and since 2015 she curates the scent culture program ‘Odorama’ at Mediamatic.   

Peter de Cupere

Artist Peter de Cupere was still a student when he was discovered by curator Jan Hoet, for his interest in working with scents. Today he is one of the world’s best-known artists working with scent as a meaningful medium. Exploring scent through performances, sculptures, drawings, installations and dance, his work addresses ethnicity, bodily taboos, eroticism, synesthesia and a range of social issues. He was awarded the prestigious ‘Contribution to Scent Culture Award’ in 2018.

In his presentation, De Cupere will draw on his own experiences to explain the added value of working with scent. But he is also fully aware of the challenges and limitations encountered in working with scent in a museum setting.

Amy Toner

Situated in the realm of contemporary dance, socially engaged practice, live performance and perfume, Amy Toner (UK) creates performances that are multi-sensory, site-specific and interdisciplinary. Her work is primarily concerned with exploring how the senses operate in performance, in particular the senses of smell, taste and touch. Amy seeks to engage the senses in a social-political context as a way of addressing social change.

Amy has previously created work for The Place, Towner Art Gallery, Young Blood Collective and Mediamatic as part of Odorama. In 2016 she undertook an internship with ICKamsterdam which focused on teaching children how to dance according to scents.

The performance, Beneath Her Eyes, is a physical and olfactory response to the futurist poem ‘Ritratto Olfattivo di una Donna’ (1932) (Olfactory Portrait of a Woman) by Marinetti. This work of art, printed on a piece of metal, addresses both olfaction and movement as it follows the scent trail of a woman. The performance explores notions of beauty, the gaze and the olfactory body of a woman.

The poem in question comes from the artist's book 'Parole in libertá futuriste olfattive, tattili, termiche', by F.T. Marinetti and Tulio d'Albisola and is one of the highlights of the collection of the Stedelijk Museum.  

The dance is performed by Maroula Iliopoulou.

Piet Devos

Piet Devos (Kortrijk, 1983) is a Belgian writer and literary theorist. He has a PhD in Modern Romance Literature from the University of Groningen. In his book El cuerpo elocuente, Piet developed a cultural-historical method for analyzing literary texts through the lens of contemporary sensory practices and discourses. Since 2016 he has conducted research for a new project on the Modernist aesthetics of disability. Piet also works as a translator of French and Latin American literature.

In his talk, Devos will connect the multisensory experiments of the historical avant-garde with the contemporary interest in disability aesthetics. He will focus more particularly on the Surrealist exhibition of 1938, full of exotic fragrances and disorienting haptics, and on Eline van Ark’s The Invisible Dancer from 2015, in which a blind (or blindfolded) audience was invited to listen to dance. These two case studies demonstrate both the richness and potential pitfalls of such experiments, and at the same time illustrate the challenges involved in analyzing and preserving multisensory art.   

Jorg Hempenius a.k.a. Scentman

Besides working as fragrance marketer, Jorg Hempenius is also AromaJockey, under the name of Scentman. What sets him apart are his museum projects and enscentments of both popular and academic events.

This edition was created in collaboration with Mediamatic Amsterdam and International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF). The PhD project is sponsored by the NWO, CLUE+, Vrije Universiteit, IFF, Royal Academy of the Arts (KABK) and the Rijksmuseum.