From the ancient world to today, artists have been drawn to the subject of boozing and carousing. Drunks is a CryptoPunk derivative that pays homage to this long—and sometimes overlooked—love affair.
Drunks is a limited collection of 626 NFTs consisting of only those Punks who explicitly express an emotion (Smile, Frown and Rosy Cheeks). The originals were rotated 90 degrees, a new background was added and in some cases some of the traits fell to the floor. But original traits always remain visible and present in the metadata.
Intoxication was a major theme of art in the ancient world: just think of all those painted pots depicting the entertainments commonly held at ancient Greek symposia or drinking parties. Praxiteles, the sculptor operating during the 4th Century BC, created a famous statue of the infant wine god, Dionysus.
The Romans, too, were under the spell of Bacchus (as they called Dionysus). He often appears in sculptures, wall paintings, and mosaics.
With the revival of the worldview of the antiques during the Renaissance, drink became an important subject for artists once again. Before creating his Pieta, Michelangelo sculpted a tipsy Bacchus. Titian also depicted the god of intoxication in Bacchus and Ariadne, and in The Andrians, he returned to this boozy theme, representing a group of revelers dancing and lying beside a river of wine on the island of Andros.
Almost a century later, Pieter Paul Rubens painted his infamous Silenus, the bald, bearded, pot-bellied tutor and companion of Dionysus, stumbling along with drunken difficulty.
A few decades after that piece was painted, Jan Steen and other Dutch artists felt compelled to depict drinking. A meme within their 17th Century repertoire was that of the lecherous gentleman attempting to seduce a woman by getting her drunk.
Vermeer created a version of this scenario. It contains a white highlight sparkling on the glass pressed to the woman’s face so that it is directly level with her eyes. A metaphor for her state of mind—dazzled by the intoxication?
The popularity of cheap Dutch alcohol inspired another memorable image of drinking: Hogarth’s Gin Lane, a polemical print of 1751, which dramatizes the consequences of consuming spirits to excess.
And the drinking theme continues on and on in the arts. From fin de siècle artists with their representations of bars and absinthe drinkers to contemporary artists who are attracted to drunkenness in their work. To name just two, Gilbert and George with Balls and Cy Twombly with a series of Bacchus paintings.