When Smoking Was Cool


Smoking is widely considered a noxious, addictive habit, but back in the day, it was a mainstream and socially acceptable behavior. Hollywood icons promoted a vision of smoking that was sexy, sophisticated, and glamorous. Rock stars challenged and subverted this paradigm—redefining smoking as rebellious, subversive, and undeniably “cool.”

Smoking is inexorably tied to the classic images of our idols—Keith Richards and Jimi Hendrix are seldom seen without a dangling cigarette, and Eric Clapton always had one affixed under the strings of his guitar. Thankfully, times have changed, and smoking has undergone a cultural transformation. It is hard to believe that this unfortunate—and often deadly—habit was once the ubiquitous accoutrement of cool.

This collection explores smoking as an artifact of a less enlightened era—from depictions of the quintessential “hard-living” rock star with cigarette in hand (and often, a bottle of whiskey in the other) to more intimate portraits where we meet the artist’s soulful gaze, peering through tendrils of smoke as ethereal as the Muse herself.

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