press release

This exhibition at the Rotterdam Kunsthal traces the changing picture of smoking in the history of art and culture from the Golden Age up to the present. Attitudes towards smoking have changed radically and so, too, has its symbolic function. All restrictive measures taken since the 1980s have given rise to the impression that after four centuries, smoking is coming to an end in the Western world. For the Kunsthal, this watershed is an opportune moment to review this symbol of a taboo and a modern attitude to life. This is the first time that smoking is being displayed in its pictorial significance. The Western world has changed drastically since the discovery of America. Columbus introduced to Europe not only the potato but also the tobacco plant. In no time, this new stimulant was the subject of vehement discussion among advocates and opponents. Artists picked up these outspoken reactions, and foremost among them the Dutch painters of the Golden Age discovered that smoking subjects were ideal for adding a social touch, a symbolic meaning or a comic twist to their paintings. Since then, paintings not featuring smoking are hard to imagine. Approximately 120 works of art from the seventeenth century to the present show clearly that artists were glad of the opportunity to take up the theme of smoking. Cigarettes, pipes or cigars play a crucial role in the works of Vincent van Gogh and Jan Steen, German artists such as Otto Dix and George Grosz, the cubists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, but also Pop Art representatives Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann. Auszug Pressetext

Four centuries of smoking in the arts
Taboo and tobacco - from Jan Steen to Pablo Picasso

mit Arbeiten von Vincent van Gogh, Jan Steen, Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, George Grosz, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Georges Braque, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Claes Oldenburg, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Judith Leyster, u.a.