’Greed’ by Francesco Vezzoli, Rome
(Image credit: Francesco Vezzoli)

Many perfumiers might consider their fragrances to be a work of art but few would go as far as to put them in a gallery as the subject of an exhibition. This is precisely what Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli’s latest project is about though, and the irreverence is very much the point.

An imagined portrait of Lee Miller for Greed

An imagined portrait of Lee Miller for Greed

(Image credit: Francesco Vezzoli)

The artist has created a non-existent fragrance called ‘Greed’, together with an advertising campaign that includes a 60-second, Roman Polanski-directed commercial, starring Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams. The bottle’s label features Vezzoli dressed in drag and a series of portraits of leading females from the history of art endorsing the fragrance.

A still from Roman Polanski’s commercial

A still from Roman Polanski’s commercial

(Image credit: Francesco Vezzoli)

‘Greed’ comes as the latest in Vezzoli’s series of subversive digs at the shallowness of the commercial world. Previous swipes include ‘Non-Love Meetings’ (2004), a pilot show for a reality dating show that never aired starring Catherine Deneuve and Marianne Faithful; ‘Trailer for a remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula’ (2005) for a film that was never made, starring Helen Mirren and Courtney Love; and ‘Democrazy’ (2007), a campaign for two political candidates that would never be elected, staring Sharon Stone and Bernard-Henri Levy.

We quizzed the artist on his fascination with truth and the power of contemporary media culture.

Was the idea for Greed based on Marcel Duchamp’s Eau de Violette?

Yes definetly

Is there a message behind the project?

Not really, just the immodest attempt to mirror society’s silliest vices and devices

Why did you decide on the name Greed?

A wink to the erich von stroheim famous movie

What would Greed smell like?

GREED smells like nothing…BUT nothing smells like GREED

What is the idea behind the advertisement?

Usually there is lack of ideas behind advertisements….

How did you choose Roman Polanski, Michelle Williams and Nathalie Portman for it?

Simply because Polanski could be easily named the greatest living movie director in the world and Natalie and Michelle are among the finest and most beautiful actresses , but further more among the very few that have never endorsed or advertised a perfume.

Do you want people to purchase Greed as a work of art or as a perfume?

I don’t care about sales, I want to see hysteria for GREED

What fragrance do you wear yourself?

The smell of my own sweat


Gagosian Gallery
Via Francesco Crispi 16
00187 Rome