Some of the more cultured among us are likely to scoff at the notion that casinos can also double as art galleries. How can artistic masterpieces live among noisy jackpot slots, bingo halls and all the other casino games we enjoy at some of our favorite casinos?
Yet, the connections become far more apparent when you go beyond the obvious prejudices some might harbor. Let’s consider the relationship between art and casinos and visit casinos that house some of the most breathtaking paintings in the world.
Art and Casinos
One of the many crazy facts about casinos is the long-standing relationship between art and gambling. Considering the wealth and status of the age-old high-roller community who frequent casinos worldwide, it’s perhaps not surprising that casinos would be a great place to exhibit exquisite paintings.
This is aside from the other more practical reasons that include the number of feet that walk through the doors, climate control, top security and great lighting.
Today, some of the oldest casinos in the world have become synonymous with high art, curating exhibitions and collections that rival even the best galleries in the world.
In many instances, casinos hire professional curators to curate and buy pieces to expand their own collections in much the same way as high-end art galleries and other corporate collectors do.
Some casinos even promote current artists at the top of their game, while online casinos often incorporate art themes into online casino games such as blackjack, poker and online slots. Today, casinos form a critical part of the art world and continue to play a significant role in keeping the art economy going.
Casinos and Their Art
Let’s look at some of the most exquisite pieces, collections and installations you’ll see in casinos around the world.
The Bellagio – Las Vegas
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is a renowned art gallery and an integral part of one of the world’s greatest and most iconic casinos. Its inception in 1998 introduced a groundbreaking concept: an art gallery housed inside a casino, surprising both art enthusiasts and gambling industry elites with its exceptional collection featuring artists such as Monet, Hockney and Picasso.
However, the casino art offerings at the Bellagio do not end there. The botanical garden, known as The Conservatory, adds another mesmerizing dimension to the casino. If you need to escape the glitzy materialism of the Las Vegas strip, The Conservatory at The Bellagio offers a secluded haven of natural beauty. Its captivating charm lies in its meticulous attention to detail, combining the wonders of a botanical garden with remarkable fine art displays. The Conservatory hosts some of the most amazing installations and exhibitions, frequently featuring works by Picasso, making it essential to plan your visit in advance to indulge in this astounding venue fully.
With its vibrant colors, expert curation and harmonious blend of diverse flora, trees and plants from around the world, The Conservatory offers a delightful collaboration of awe-inspiring sculptures, captivating lighting and breathtaking paintings. It’s an absolute must-see for art enthusiasts who are exploring Las Vegas.
The Hippodrome – London
In recent years, the perception of The Hippodrome Casino at Leicester Square in London has undergone a remarkable transformation. Once known for its dingy and smoky ambiance, the venue has undergone an impressive £50 million makeover, including a significant overhaul of its art installations. The casino took a bold step by commissioning the country’s first digital artist-in-residence to revitalize the casino floor’s ambiance.
The results have been nothing short of extraordinary. The Edwardian building has seamlessly transitioned into the 21st century — thanks to a mesmerizing 57-panel digital artwork display that creates a truly unique and immersive environment rarely seen in a casino. This artistic piece is a fusion of past and present, capturing the essence of the building’s identity.
The incorporation of such innovative and dynamic public art has prompted one visitor to declare, “You don’t need to gamble to enjoy yourself here.” The Hippodrome Casino has become a haven where art thrives, both inside and outside its walls, breathing new life and injecting vibrancy into the space.
The Palms Casino – Las Vegas
The Palms Casino stands out as a remarkable destination, offering thrilling gambling experiences and an exquisite visual feast. Unlike many other venues, the Palms Casino didn’t settle for a dedicated art space; instead, they transformed the entire establishment into an art gallery of almost unparalleled quality.
As you wander its halls, you’ll encounter a treasure trove of priceless artworks adorning the walls, including original pieces by renowned artists such as Andy Warhol, Richard Prince and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Among the celebrated artists exhibited at the Palms Casino, none captures attention quite like British artist Damien Hirst. His controversial sculpture ‘The Unknown’ (1999) takes center stage, proudly displayed above the main bar. This thought-provoking artwork features three massive water tanks, each containing a portion of a dissected shark.
The casino’s strategic layout ensures that the art is visible from every corner, whether you’re at the blackjack table, spinning the roulette wheel or trying your luck at the slot machines. Wherever you find yourself inside the Palms Casino, you can expect a feast for the eyes.
Immerse yourself in this artistic wonderland, where the fusion of gambling excitement and captivating artwork creates an unforgettable experience. The Palms Casino stands as a testament to the power of art to elevate and enrich our experience of the world, making it a must-visit destination for both art enthusiasts and casino aficionados alike.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Atlantic City
The Wentworth Gallery at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is where the worlds of rock and art collide. It’s not just an art gallery – it’s an immersive experience that combines your art purchase with the chance to meet legendary rock stars and world-renowned pop artists.
At Wentworth Gallery, you have the rare opportunity to interact with icons such as Paul Stanley from Kiss, Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead, Ric Ocasek from the Cars and Rick Allen from Def Leppard. You could also meet acclaimed artists like Peter Max, Charles Fazzino and Michael Godard.
This unique gallery experience goes beyond simply admiring artwork; it allows you to personally connect with the artists who have shaped the music and art scenes. It’s a rare chance to hear their stories, gain insights into their creative processes and have a memorable encounter that adds an extra layer of significance to your art purchase.
The Monte Carlo Casino – Monaco
Hidden among the many lounges and rooms of the Monte Carlo Casino are artistic gems by esteemed French painters such as Paul Steck, Pedro Ribera, Georges Picard and Félix-Hippolyte Lucas. The walls of the cozy Salle Europe (European Room,) with its lounge bar and gaming tables, are adorned by works that showcase the beauty of women and serve as an allegory of nature.
In the lounge bar near the renowned Le Train Bleu restaurant, the paintings of Félix-Hippolyte Lucas invite us to explore the majestic Alps or take a stroll by the mesmerizing sea. Other Lucas creations – one allegory of painting and one of music – are on display on either side of the impressive glass roof.
Ribera’s masterpieces decorate the entrance to the Salon Rose. The Flower Battle and On the Terraces depict women with a touch of Pompadour charm, reflecting the enchanting Belle Époque era.
The Salle des Amériques (Americas Room,) designed by the renowned Charles Garnier, exudes a more modern ambiance than its predecessors. Built in 1881, it showcases mainly replicas of the original artworks that unfortunately met their demise in the 1960s.
Adjacent to the Salle des Amériques, we find the elegant Salle Blanche (White or Pale room.) This luminous room, constructed in 1903, overlooks the sparkling sea. Initially serving as a haven for the companions of players, it later became a cherished reading room. Dominating the space is a striking painting by Paul Gervais, depicting three nude dancing women known as the Florentine Graces.
The Salles Touzet (Twin Rooms) houses a peculiar mosaic figure by Facchina, marking the transition to the private rooms.
Looking up, we discover six stained glass female portraits with walls adorned by paintings depicting flowers, trees and rivers, as well as peacocks, birds and swans, by Charles Monginot, Tony Faivre and Léon Hodebert.
The Salle Médecin (Doctor’s Room,) exclusively reserved for the casino’s high-stakes players, competitions and tournaments, was constructed in 1910 and is home to Armand Segaud’s works which illustrate different times of the day, from morning to night.
Emile Peynot’s bas-reliefs showcase Helios, the sun god, driving his horse-drawn carriage, while his sister Selene, the moon goddess, is depicted riding in her ox-drawn chariot.
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