Last year, I wrote about Roberto Greco, a photographer whose works transcended mere pictures and involved actual Art reminiscent of oil paintings by the great Masters. With his camera, he could replicate the look of a Vermeer still-life or the textural feel of a woman’s naked skin in a Rubens. I was left speechless. Yet, there was also great range to his talent, one that extended to other styles of art like Surrealism, Warhol Pop Art, and the baroque. Many of those photos involve perfume, which is an original twist in and of itself. Instead of the trite, typical images of a Commes de Garcons perfume that you’d see in mainstream advertising, he had a more symbolic representation where Amazing Green was a living entity unexpectedly sprouting hair that was twisted to grow like living bushes, all in the candied simplicity of Pop Art psychedelic colours.
You can see that photo and many others in last year’s article, Part I, but I wanted to highlight Mr. Greco’s latest work today because I think he’s grown even further as a photographer when it comes to perfume, intersecting commercialism with art in a manner that makes him stand out in the field. I should disclose that Mr. Greco has since become a personal friend, but that is not the reason for today’s post. I truly believe, from the bottom of my heart, that he is brilliant, enormously talented, and should be the first choice of every perfume house when it comes to capturing their creations in print. In today’s busy world, people are flooded by images, data, and information, so they rarely stop to give something a second or third look unless it really grabs your attention. Roberto Greco’s photos do that. Others go even further in their impact. Some of his images (like the jewel-toned ones you will see below for Room 1015) have made me want to try a fragrance when I previously had zero interest — and I think that is the ultimate compliment to a photographer, not to mention a positive inducement for other companies to retain his services.
So, today, I’d like to share some of his latest work for Bogue, SHL 777, and Frapin, amongst others, as well as his more purely artistic, non-perfume photos. One series that you will see is a personal project that sought to portray the inspiration behind various Serge Lutens fragrances like Iris Silver Mist or MKK, and the women whom he sees as symbolizing those scents. Others range from editorial work for magazines or metaphoric art pieces for gallery exhibitions. In all cases, I’d like to thank Mr. Greco for kindly permitting me to share so much of his work, a lot of which is not currently shown on his main business website. He’s an incredibly sweet man with enormous modesty and much shyness, but he is a talented artist above all else and I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase his work.
So, onto the photographs, starting first with the new, upcoming trio of fragrances from Jovoy:
Photos for Bogue (MAAI), Room 1015, Les Liquides Imaginaires, and Frapin:
Work for SHL 777:
Editorial work for Edelweiss magazine, Switzerland:
Like every artist with depth, Mr. Greco goes beyond the confines of commercial work. His purely artistic creations have been shown in galleries, and some of them have been nominated or chosen for awards. I thought I’d share a few which caught my eye:
As both a perfume lover and an artist, Mr. Greco has enormous admiration for Serge Lutens. He created a personal series of photos to pay tribute to the great perfumer, where he tried to represent the symbolic woman embodied by one of Oncle Serge’s fragrances (like Iris Silver Mist, MKK, Boxeuses, etc.) via a combination of illustrated designs created by Olivier Schawalder and perfume photography. I asked Mr. Greco to explain a little about the series and his symbolic or thematic construct. He said:
I have a real fascination for Serge Lutens’ univers. It’s not only about scent, but also because he has the capacity to make me imagine a lot of things with simply the right word at the right place. He was a photographer, and I truly admire his visual work, and I think his photographic background is why he can explain carefully what he wants to Christopher Sheldrake.
With my series, I’ve tried to do the same thing but in another way: find the inspiration in each perfume/word/title and then translate them into an image. I worked with Olivier Schawalder who made the illustrations. I did the art direction telling him the story, for example which woman could be represented behind each perfume (dark woman, glam woman, dangerous woman, mystic woman, etc..) Then, I made the composition. I didn’t want to be literal or too narrative (the illustrations were enough for that). I wanted to use a dramatic light with some element to keep the woman at the main role.
That last one is quite phallic, is it not? It’s not my personal thing and, yet, I keep staring at it, as well as the woman pierced through the mouth in Vierge de Fer. I like the MKK photo the best out of the series, but I think whether or not one enjoys a particular piece of art is often a secondary consideration when assessing things. Art should first make you stop, pause, and look. Mr. Greco achieves that again and again with his work. It’s one of the many reasons why I admire his talent.
Ultimately, what Mr. Greco does in his photography is what perfume is meant to do as a whole: a seemingly mundane, concrete commercial product with a price tag transforms into something that evokes emotions and other worlds. Compare, for example, what Jovoy used to do for their fragrances — photos so typical of all the perfume houses, whether niche or mainstream designers — with the world created by Roberto Greco:
Which one are you more likely to give a second look? Which one is more original? And how many photographers are there who can make perfume bottles into something so visually beautiful and arresting?
I really hope you have enjoyed the photos. I also hope that you will feel free to share in the comments anything that caught your attention, as well as the reasons why. If you’d like to see more of Mr. Greco’s portfolio, some of his work is posted on his business, news, and art pages, though the first two don’t show everything at the moment and are being worked on. You might see more in Part I of this post. And, if by some chance, you’d be interested in hiring Mr. Greco for yourself, his rates are very reasonable.
I’ll end this post by sharing again a few of my favorite Roberto Greco images from the past, still lifes that caught my breath with admiration or made me smile:
Disclosure: All photos used by permission. Full rights are reserved to Mr. Greco, and nothing may be used without his express authorization. Please don’t steal and not give credit!
Wow! These are really amazing. 🙂
I must say I love the pics with the new Jovoy perfumes and I like the way the bottles look so much more amazing on them than usually.
The bottles definitely look better than they usually do, especially as compared to Jovoy’s typical ad photography. I’m glad you liked them, my sweet. 🙂
These are fascinating. For whatever reason I don’t find the Serge Lutens series as impressive as the others, but they are all on a very high plane, especially compared to usual ad shots. And his art photography is stunning. Thanks so much for bringing these to our attention.
Damn, new lemming…now I want all the ad shots of the SHLs…
The Lutens series isn’t my favorite, either, and I share your feeling that it’s not as impressive as the others. That was a live tarantula, by the way, for the SHL 777 O Hira photo! My favorite perfume photos are some of the SHL 777 ones and the new, jewel-toned images for the various brands, but where Mr. Greco has always shone for me is his purely artistic imagery. I never cease to be amazed how he has captured the feel, texture, and look of Vermeer, Rembrandt, and other old school masters.
Woow, what a fantástic work. Positively surprised.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Walter.
L.O.V.E! No wonder you’re speachless, so I’m i! And some should consider this visual orgasm for their products, it definitely would give a lot of things a second chance! 🙂
Ha, I’m SO glad that was your reaction, Alex! I think Mr. Greco should be the Go-To chap for all perfume houses. He can make the plainest of bottles look interesting, and he certainly has triggered my interest more than once in a perfume house that I would never otherwise think about. I suspect the actual scent in a number of those jewel-toned photos will never — EVER — live up to the beauty he’s given them. 😀 Did you like his Vermeer-like still life portraits? Those will always be my favorites. I don’t know how he’s manage to convey texture and even oil brush strokes in his photos, but he has. The texture/luminosity of that woman’s skin in the “Girl with Grapes”….!!!
Yes! And I absolutely love how he can convey emotions with as ease so difficult for others. I would more than gladly test all the perfumes here, but I’m actually only interested in Mortal Skin. Now that one has my hopes up!!
Incredible artwork. I found the Lutens series somehow disquieting. The one that for some reason actually startled me is Oud 777. I like that one best.
I found the Lutens women disquieting, too, Maya, but I think that was the point and it certainly is in line with Oncle Serge’s approach in general to both his perfumes and the women in his stories. His backstories for some of the fragrances are unsettling beyond belief, like the creepy Rape/Murder tale for Fille en Berlin, a story that I will probably struggle with forever. Ultimately, though, I think the point of art is to trigger some sort of response — positive or negative — so Mr. Greco’s Lutens series manages that. It’s not something that you’ll just flip past in a magazine without a thought.
How interesting that the Oud 777 photo is the one you like best. Why do you think it startled you? Because of the unexpectedness of the creature? That reminds me, I need to ask Mr. Greco what it is, and if it’s a desert fox or something else.
Fortunately I don’t like la Fille en Berlin. It’s a strange one for me. I smell a nice rose and something else that I really dislike, but I don’t know what it is. The list of notes doesn’t help. It’s as though there’s a sharp dividing line between the rose and the “other”. Something similar happened to me with A Wing and a Prayer fragrances. I distinctly smelled the base in each one, almost separate from the rest of the scent. It made them effectively all smell the same.
I’m not really sure what it is about the Oud 777 photo. I think it has a mystical feel for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the animal is a chihuahua. 🙂
These are simply stunning. The jewelry ads, The Jovoy ads, all of them. I love his hommages to early still life painting with light and texture. So gorgeous. The MKK photo made me run to put some on. Thanks for bringing his work to my attention. Love the ad for Maai.
Your comment made me really happy, Rich. I’m so glad you thought the photos were beautiful, especially the still life ones. Those were my first introduction to his work. What I like about a number of his pieces is that there is always something that rewards really careful examination, like the bird/beak that is almost hidden inside the wood in the Bogue Maai photo.
Electric Wood and Blomma Cult photos are stunning.
This is gorgeous, Kafka. I especially like to Jovoy and O’hira ones. They feel incredibly intelligent, and like showing such a strong vision.
The Chanel with fish is stupendous.
These photos are interesting and beautiful in strange way. I really enjoyed them.
I wish Mr. Greco much luck. I’m happy to hear he has had showings. I have an appreciation for the photographic print. To me, the print embodies the final choices in the photographer’s art.
Digital presentation is like fragrance on skin – many variables.
One thing I love about the mall is the large prints and transparencies.
Nicely said, Penguin, about the print embodying the final choices in the photographer’s decision-making process, as well as the way digital presentation has as many variables as fragrance on the skin. 🙂
How cool that he allowed you to show pictures not available on his website – and thanks for sharing them! I still vividly remember his work of art from your Part I article ( it’s already more than one year ago???). The photo of Stephane Humbert Lucas is so funny, are these fragrance blotters (paper strips, I don’t know the exact English word) looking out of the pocket of his apron?
And like you I am now interested in Room 1015, haha.
Have you watched his video After Still Life, yet?
Absolutely stunning and bizarre!
Yes, I think the SHL photo shows fragrance blotters or mouillettes, presented like a workman’s tools for symbolic purposes. I haven’t watched the After Still Life video, but I will once I get some time. I’m glad you found it interesting, but even happier at hearing that you remember Mr. Greco’s work from the post last year! 🙂
Truely fascinating! Thank you for sharing these amazing works of such a talented photographer! 😀 I have tried a few Lutens in these photos, and they definitely make me want to wear them again and try to understand why he depicted the perfume in such way.
The Lutens photos are definitely a different way of seeing and interpreting the scents! I’m glad you were intrigued, Yinghao. 🙂
Wow. Mr. Greco has such an artistic eye & an incredible imagination. I especially loved the Bogue Maai, Phantasma (the photo makes me want to wear that fragrance), & the O Hira phtotos. Actually, I loved them all. Absolutely beautiful photography. Thanks for posting these.
You’re very welcome, Ed. I’m so glad you enjoyed them. 🙂