Super Bowl Sunday approaches and of course my mind doesn’t go immediately to who I am going to root for (Atlanta by default because my team was eliminated even before the playoffs) or what to make for the tailgating party I am going to (nachos of course!), but to art and how sports events and athletes have a surprisingly close relationship to art and art makers. It might seem an odd inclusion in a painting blog, but given the physicality of sports–the need for practiced gesture and hand-eye coordination–there is a lot more commonality than you might think.
But even if we move beyond comparing sports players to studio athletes, ie artists, there are numerous depictions of sports figures and athletic events that present themselves throughout art history. Olympians, boxers, rowers, dancers–they have all been painted by one artist or another. And then there are artists who might have had another career in sports. Did you know that George Bellows declined the chance to place professional baseball to pursue his art?
In honor of Super Bowl LI, here is a fun gallery of sports, illustrated through painting, as a nod to how alike passionate people are, whether their field is turf, an artist’s studio, or a painting blog. What unites us all is, hopefully, the sheer love of the “game” and the pursuit of excellence. Enjoy!