Casinos have long been the subject of paintings, which depict gambling and classic casino games. As casino gambling evolves into digital web-based platforms like PlayStar (US), the visual representation of casinos in the form of antique art continues to highlight the long-held pastime of traditional gambling.
Paintings are the only physical records of the historical activity, as photography wasn’t invented until after some older works of casino art. Whether antique or contemporary, casino art captures the passion and expressiveness of casino games.
Dogs Playing Poker
In 1894, Cassius Coolidge created Dogs Playing Poker, a gambling-themed piece, which depicts dogs around a table playing poker. Audiences of the time dubbed the painting “bad art”.
Although the artist was not well received in his time, he has grown in popularity with this painting, and other versions Coolidge created, being recognized across the globe. Developed early in the 19th century, the poker game was a popular activity and later became one of the original games in gambling’s commercialization into land-based casinos.
Slot Machine Queen
A more recent work considered bad art, Slot Machine Queen features a glamorous older lady seemingly enjoying her time playing the slots. The artist, Shelly Wilkinson, uses bold colors and images to depict the over-the-top, likeable character who exudes the excitement found in playing an actual slot game.
Edvard Munch’s popular work of a roulette table captures a historical reference to the last remaining casino in Europe, after Germans abolished gambling in 1860. Created in 1892, the artist uses his stay in Europe and excursions to the casino as inspiration for the piece.
Capturing the game’s drama, the artist depicts both women and men surrounding a roulette table and experiencing the tension often evident in actual roulette gaming experiences. Emphasizing contrasting black/white and green/red colors, the artist creates both movement and emotion in the well-recognized piece.