Amidst Smoke Rings: Portrait of a Modern Artist

Duration:Sep. 23, 2022 - Jan. 8, 2023
Curator:Petra Kolářová
Text by:PAW

What compelled the painters Jan Preisler, František Kupka, Emil Filla, and Bohumil Kubišta to put down the palette and brush and portray themselves with smoking attributes ? The exhibition Amidst Smoke Rings will reveal what this type of self-portrait conveyed about the transition of a traditionally perceived artist into an independent creator.

The exhibition will pursue the depiction motif of an artist as a smoker from the Baroque era to the interwar period with a special focus on the art of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The individual chapters will present the cigarette in the artist’s hand as a symbol of a dandy (Anselm Feuerbach, Beneš Knüpfer), decadent (Edvard Munch, Karel Hlaváček), and symbolist creator (Jan Preisler, František Kupka). The pipe as an attribute of a painter and poet can be seen in Cubist paintings (Pablo Picasso Bohumil Kubišta, Emil Filla), in caricatures produced during the interwar avant-garde period (Adolf Hoffmeister), and in works by Josef Váchal. A special section will be devoted to the visualisation of smoke in visual arts, to the portrait of a woman smoker (Karel Špillar, Alfons Mucha). The exhibition will also display photography (Josef Sudek, František Drtikol, Jaroslav Rössler) and applied arts that will adumbrate a wider context of the period smoking culture. 

The National Gallery in Prague