Glass smoking pipes get the high art treatment at a new exhibit that opened at the National Liberty Museum (NLM) in Philadelphia, PA.
Titled “The Treachery of Images,” the exhibit, which runs through May 7, features glass hand pipes and water pipes from more than 20 prominent pipe-makers and other glass artists. Work on display at the exhibit will also be available for purchase.
The exhibit takes its name from a 1929 painting of the same name by surrealist artist René Magritte. Featuring an image of a pipe underlined with the phrase “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (or “This is not a pipe”), the painting challenges viewers to question their interpretations of reality by pointing out that the painting is not a pipe, but a representation of a pipe.
The NLM’s “Treachery” exhibit will operate on a similar principle, placing the often-maligned functional glass subculture in the type of space usually reserved for the mainstream art world, which historically has marginalized pipe-makers due to their art’s association with smoking marijuana. In that way, the exhibit seems to ask viewers to consider that the pipes at NLM aren’t pipes, either — or at least not just pipes, but also works of art.