For some people, it might come as a surprise to hear that gambling is one of the sources of inspiration for painters and artists. However, this is not surprising at all. In the modern era, being creative and innovative has become quite a challenge, and many artists are struggling to get away from the “nothing new under the sun” kind of thinking. Many of them seek the inspiration in the everyday lives of people. Since gambling is one of the most common pastimes nowadays, it is only logical that it will find its place in the art form.
“Dogs playing poker” is one of the most famous paintings related to gambling that has been mentioned more than 30 times in numerous movies and TV shows over the years. What many of you who recognize this painting might not know is that it is actually a series of eighteen oil paintings and not just one piece. They were painted by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century with the purpose of advertising cigars and smoking. The first painting named “Poker Game” was sold in 2015 for the record $658,000 at a Sotheby’s New York sale. Despite this astronomically high price, for a very long time, it was considered kitsch and the very embodiment of poor taste and bad art. However, in recent years some critics have been claiming that even though they were commissioned with a specific purpose, these paintings could be seen as a satire of modern-day society, criticizing the upper class for their attitudes and excesses in drinking, smoking and gambling.
There are many contemporary artists whose paintings depict some forms of gambling. According to fineartamerica.com, three of the top priced ones are For The Roses by Hanne Lore Koehler estimated at $8,000, Burning Black Jack by Michael Godard worth $3,500 and the cheapest of the three worth only $700 is Slotmachine Queen painted by Shelly Wilkerson.
For the Roses is a painting of a horse race. The brush strokes illustrate the movement and the speed of the three horses and jockeys. The blurry vision and the vividness of colors make you think of the excitement and exhilaration of the audience in the stands. It is meant to re-enact the adrenaline rush many people feel when betting on their favorites.
As far as Michael Godard and his painting are concerned, this artist said that he was inspired by Las Vegas. His intention was to capture the essence of this fun city. It emits the heat of the moment when you are dealt a winning hand in the game.
Slotmachine Queen might be the cheapest of them all, but it is equally interesting for analysis. It is painted in bright colors against the completely black background. This was done so as to put the emphasis on the fun-loving elderly lady covered with expensive but distasteful jewelry enjoying her good fortune at the slot machine.