In the 2010s

In the 2010s, when homes began to double as backdrops for social media posts, the branded candle, or evidence thereof, became ubiquitous. Maybe it was a Le Labo Santal 26 burning serenely alongside a neat stack of fashion books. Maybe it was an already-spent Diptyque variety, the empty glass holder now filled with makeup brushes and perched on the corner of a bathroom sink. Now modern classics, these candles are still around, and still smell as good as ever, but there’s a newer crop of options that are, well, weirder.

These candles, which register as (affordable) art objects and are often intended as such, focus on form, color and process. Take Hannah Jewett’s Sculptural Candles, with curvaceous, abstract shapes that morph once lit, or Carl Durkow’s playfully stacked pillars, some of which recall the work of the sculptorConstantin Brancusi. The New York-based artist Janie Korn used to make ceramic figurines but found herself wanting to create something that felt more immediate and interactive; she now makes hand-painted wax candles modeled after Wendy Williams, Ally McBeal and a bottle of Kewpie mayonnaise. “When you light a candle,” she says, “there’s an act of performance.” And one of depletion — unlike with most sculpture, you need not live with a candle for long.
Grey Ombre Hair

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