NGP: Amidst Smoke Rings – Portrait of a Modern Artist

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.

Bohumil Kubišta, Smoker, (Self-portrait) 1910

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 exhibition seeks to present the theme in an international context by courtesy of significant foreign loans of works of Édouard Manet, Pierre Bonnard, Edvard Munch, or James Ensor from Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Munch Museum in Oslo, Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo and Kunsthaus in Zurich. No less importantly, the exhibition will present the works of the National Gallery Prague as well as loans from Czech public institutions and private collectors.

A summarising guide and an extensive illustrated catalogue in Czech and English will be published for the exhibition.

National Gallery in Prague, Trade Fair Palace ⁠–⁠1st Floor 
Curator: Petra Kolářová