Absinthe and the Arts

Many artists have claimed that drinking absinthe has inspired their creativity. Whether or not absinthe is the reason behind their success, it has definitely made an impact in the arts.

Absinthe and all its mystery has played a notable role in the fine arts movement of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism, among others. Absinthe is more than just a drink; it has an extensively documented role in the 19th century visual arts, often the subject of a lot of genre paintings and still lifes of the era.

The beauty of the drink’s ever-changing color, its seduction, its air of danger and the so-called psychoactive properties are just some of the traits that many artists wanted to capture in their artwork. Some of these artists were known not only for the work but also for their very outrageous bohemian lifestyle that will later on be used against absinthe by the prohibitionists as proof of its alleged harmful effects to people.

Famous Artwork Featuring Absinthe

One of the artworks that is known is the L’ Absinthe during the 1876 by Edgar Degas which portrays grim absinthe drinkers in a café. His painting featured two lonely-looking café customers staring into their milky-green drinks. However, the name L’ Absinthe wasn’t actually given by Edgar Degas himself. Speculation has been it was either his art dealer or a later owner of the painting who called it such.

Picasso also has paintings that featured absinthe. He portrayed the drink in a different media which includes the paintings of “Woman Drinking Absinthe” in 1901, the “Bottle of Pernod and Glass” in 1912 and a sculpture called “Absinthe Glass” in 1914. Pablo Picasso was greatly influenced by the publicity material he saw in the Parisian bars and cafés he usually visited.

Felicien Rops, an incredible Belgian artist and engraver created the “La Buveuse d’Absinthe”, which means specifically the female absinthe drinker, in 1865. After he drew the said piece, he frequently drew the same subject in the next 30 years. Most of the time, his artwork showed off a slender woman leaning against a pillar outside a dance-hall with her low neckline and fine dress showing that she is part of the nightlife. The overall look of the woman in the painting somehow suggests that she is a prostitute. The woman in the painting became the epitome of the female absinthe drinker.

Another well-known artist was said to consume a very significant amount of absinthe while he was creating his signature painting style, was Vincent Van Gogh. The amount of absinthe he consumed was attributed as the reason why he cut off his own ear. Although Van Gogh never acted violently, people were afraid of him because of his strange behavior such as painting outside at night with candles hooked to his hat. This is probably the reason why he was an outcast, aside from the fact that he was a depressive who suffered from epileptic fits and psychotic attacks.

Other Cultural References to Absinthe

Absinthe was not just in the arts, it was also referred to in literature, seen on television, heard in music and has been shown on film. Absinthe was known back then and it is still famous to this day. A lot of absinthe brands are in the market and are now being mixed into cocktails.