How Gambling Inspires Contemporary Artists

Written by Elena Durand

While it’s generally frowned upon or even illegal in some countries, gambling is an activity pursued by millions of people across the globe. The thought alone that we can become millionaires overnight with a little bit of luck is alluring.

Gambling is a big part of our culture, and some cities like Las Vegas and Macau are driven solely by the gambling industry. Then it would come as no surprise that a lot of artists like to explore this subject and portray it in their work.

Gambling has found its place in a lot of movies, songs, paintings, and other forms of art. So, what inspires and attracts contemporary artists to gambling, and what are some of the most famous works that revolve around this vice?

The bright, colorful lights and the glitz and glamour of casino rooms are designed in such a way to lure in customers. Gambling promises wealth and luxury, all with the cost of some small risk-taking. Of course, this is all an illusion, as most gamblers lose and some even develop an addiction and serious financial problems.

The world of gambling is dynamic and thrilling, and contemporary artists express it in many different ways.

Hanne Lore Koehler is known for several great paintings. One entitled For The Roses is a colorful piece that shows an exciting horse race, a sport that’s almost no fun to watch unless there’s some money being thrown around.

Nearly all age groups enjoy video slots, but elderly ladies, in particular, seem to be drawn to this type of wagering the most. The painting called Slot Machine Queen by Shelly Wilkerson best portrays this. It shows a smiling, grey-haired woman in kitsch clothes drinking a glass of wine with a cat in her lap in front of a slot machine.

American artist John Craig is known for his unique collage art portraits, and several of them depict people’s faces shaped by playing cards.

Alexej Ravski found inspiration in card games as well, and several of his surreal paintings show people playing them. Lucia Heffernan’s Lady Baba is also a great example of an artist being influenced by gambling.

Bricks and concrete walls act as canvasses for graffiti and street artists, and many of them choose gambling as the subject of their work as well. Whether it’s a promotional piece for a casino business or just a simple scribble on a wall, gambling graffiti can be found all over the world.

Tattoo artists receive all sorts of requests from customers. One of the most requested gambling-related tattoos is the ace of spades as it represents luck and fortune. Other popular tattoos of this kind are a roulette wheel, dice, wagering chips, and other symbols. Casino motifs can also be found in body art.

The casino houses themselves can be described as a form of contemporary architecture. They are usually enormous and look like true pleasure palaces, both on the interior and exterior.

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