Sports, especially those important in the national psyche, are a natural subject for artists to explore. A national championship or Olympic gold medal can inspire strong feelings of euphoria, nationalism, and camaraderie. It is a strange event where by watching something we are not participants in, we can still feel passionately and personally.
Currently on view in “Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions,” is one example of sports-inspired art by David Hammons titled Money Tree. Basketball functions as a recurring metaphor for black culture in Hammons’s work. Addressing the belief that a career in professional athletics can offer a life of luxury, Money Tree references the basketball hoop with both irony and empathy, acknowledging the game’s limited potential to help people achieve financial stability.
Other artists like Paul Pfeiffer have channeled their inspiration from athletics into challenging the way we view sports. In past works Pfeiffer has erased players from a basketball game and the fighters from a boxing match. The resulting images of a ball bouncing through space or the dance of ropes around a boxing ring create a fascinating lens through which to view athletics.
Join The Nasher on October 3, 2011 to celebrate art influenced by sports and the modern era.
To learn more about David Hammons, Paul Pfeiffer, and other artists inspired by athletics, read this MOMA post.
Find out more about how basketball inspired the Nasher Museum’s 2011 Benefit Gala, “Changing the Game,” on Monday, October 3, 2011. For one night only, an immersive installation throughout the Great Hall will feature exciting and unexpected video works by internationally renowned contemporary artists.
IMAGE: David Hammons, “Money Tree,” 1992. Gelatin silver print, Edition 10 of 70.
Promised Gift of Blake Byrne, T’57.