Harold Eugene Edgerton, Football Kick, 1938
Today on the show we are going to be talking about sports. My guest, curator David Little, has just put together an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts called The Sports Show: Athletics As Image and Spectacle.
The show charts the cultural significance of sports media from the early days of photography to the present day. It includes work from well known artists like Andy Warhol, Andreas Gursky and Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as news photographs, television footage, film and video. This range of media sheds light on the myriad ways that our politics, racial tensions, national identities and cultural values are reflected in sports.
The Sports Show also reveals some of the surprising artistic per-cursors to the way we visually experience sports today. For example, the concept behind instant replay, David suggests, was developed back in the 1890s by a photographer named Eadweard Muybridge who made stop-action photographs of bodies in motion. Other visual conventions that we take for granted in modern sports broadcasts — telephoto close ups, on the field shots, aerial views from the Goodyear blimp — were pioneered in photographs and films by artists Alexander Rodchenko and Leni Reifenstahl, Hitler’s infamous propagandist.
David recently spoke with me over the phone from Minneapolis about the history of sports images and why he thinks sports have been largely absent from critical discussion in visual art.
`Eadweard Muybridge, Animal Locomotion Plate 344, 1887
Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints, 2007
Martin Munkacsi, Spectators at a Sports Event, from the series “Crowd,” 1933
Unknown photographer, Babe Ruth, 1919
Alexander Rodchenko, Horse Race, 1935
Leni Riefenstahl, Jesse Owens, 1936
Roger Welch, O.J. Simpson Project, 1977
Kota Ezawa, Brawl, 2008
Frank Lloyd Wright, Girls Gym Class, 1900
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