Sport and Art: A Match Made in Heaven
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, July 13, 2024

Sport and Art: A Match Made in Heaven

Sport has long been of major interest to other sectors, with its dramatic nature providing subject matter that can be moulded seamlessly into numerous other art forms.

That point can be traced all the way back to the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece and the creation of statues honouring the legendary Zeus.

Fast forward to the 1700s and more examples of the crossover between sport and art can be found, with George Stubbs’’ book ‘The Anatomy of the Horse’ one of the most famous examples.

J.M.W. Turner notably started his career as a colourist of sporting prints before going on to establish himself as one of the finest painters in English history.

There are numerous other examples of famous artists delving into sport, including Pablo Picasso with his 1922 painting ‘Two Women Running on The Beach (The Race)’.

Sport and art have continued to be intrinsically linked since then, with many other artistic sectors recognising just how powerful sport can be.

Read on as we look at how sport and art combine in the modern era, helping to inspire positivity in fans around the world.

Messi & the Plastic Bag Boy
The global appeal of soccer makes it the ideal vehicle for artistic expression, and nowhere has that been better showcased than in Afghanistan in 2016.

A five-year-old boy, Murtaza Ahmadi, idolised Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi so much that he would wake up during the night demanding to meet him.

He started to pester his father for a Messi jersey, but this was impossible as they lived in a poor village far away from the big cities.

Murtaza cried for days asking for the shirt until his brother Hamayon helped to make one from a plastic bag to make him happy.

Images posted on Facebook went viral, and Murtaza was eventually able to fulfil his dream of meeting Messi after the Argentinian invited him to a Barcelona friendly in Qatar.

Messi gave him a signed shirt and ball, although the youngster sadly had to leave these behind when the family were subsequently forced to flee their village by the Taliban.

However, while life is undoubtedly tough for Murtaza and his family, no-one can take away the memories generated by a very simple piece of art.

The Art of Sports Equipment
Another area where sport and art come together is sportswear and equipment, with modern products unrecognisable from what passed for the norm in days gone by.

For instance, sales of soccer boots generate substantial annual revenues for massive sportswear companies such as Nike, Puma, adidas and others.

These are powered by lucrative endorsement deals with the world’s top stars, many of whom have a significant input into the artistic design of the footwear.

The aforementioned Messi is one such player whose boots can be viewed as art, with the designs often taking inspiration from his personal life.

During the 2020/21 season, adidas launched a special edition of the Nemeziz 19.1 boots, which Messi wore during Barcelona’s Champions League campaign.

The design fused elements of the Spanish city with Messi’s homeland to create an eye-catching product that can be viewed as a true work of art.

Clothing also regularly crosses into art, particularly for items such as jerseys in popular sports such as soccer, ice hockey and American Football.

The kits become a representation of the tribal nature of the sport, often taking inspiration from where the teams are located or historical events.

Club Crests as Art
A recent feature by Sportslens investigated the historical importance of crests in the Premier League and how they have evolved over time.

Much like every other sport, each soccer club has its own badge which is designed to represent the organisation’s roots or what it stands for.

Designs in the past tended to be over-complicated, but many clubs have embraced modern art by creating reimagined crests.

Simplistic designs and clean lines are now all the rage, although these are not always well received by followers of the clubs in question.

For example, Juventus ditched their previous logo in 2017 in favour of a new design which was roundly criticised by their supporters.

Many of the Serie A club’s fans argued that the loss of the charging bull and crown made it look too corporate and had completely ruined their identity.

For some people a club crest should be sacrosanct – an untouchable design that should not be changed no matter what the circumstances.

The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings are a great example of this, with their iconic Winged Wheel remaining unchanged since 1949.

Sport in the Movies
Many film producers have had a long-standing affinity with different sports as this list of soccer movies shows,

However, sport can be a difficult subject for filmmakers to get right, with many making the mistake of being overly formulaic with the content.

One movie where that wasn’t the case was the 2004 film ‘Miracle’, which documents the improbable triumph of the United States ice hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the tournament placed the US on an inevitable path to meet the might Soviet Union team.

The Soviets had won the gold medal in the past four Winter Games and were hot favourites to make it five-in-a-row at Lake Placid.

US head coach Herb Brooks famously assembled a team of unheralded college players, who were written off by experts before a puck had been dropped.

They eventually claimed the gold medal after beating Finland in the final, having seen off the Soviets in thrilling circumstances in their last four match-up.

The movie perfectly captured the tension surrounding the US and the Soviets during the Games and left people weeping tears of joy in the premiere.

Al Michaels, who commentated on the tournament for ABC, describes the film as an inspirational piece of art that will resonate with audiences for years to come.

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