Art, but play sports | Arts + Culture

Art: “Spanish Dance” by Edgar Degas & Fonderie AA Hébrard, cast between 1931 and 1938.

Missoula, Montana is known for two things: an eccentric arts scene that attracts visual artists, poets and musicians from around the world, and Griz football, an exceptional college program with a history of champions and professional players.

The University of Montana powers both of these industries. However, although the two scenes coexist in such a small space, they are not often associated and rarely mingle other than by proximity.

But while that divide exists in most modern contexts, the histories of art and sport are so intertwined that the contemporary disconnect is the part that feels strange, said University art professor Jerod Peitsmeyer. from Montana.

“At some point in America, it seems like there were these various factions of society where if you were really into sports, you probably weren’t really into the arts,” Peitsmeyer said.

Peitsmeyer teaches art history at UM and is acting director of the University’s Visual Arts Gallery. He also maintains a Twitter account that collects old Denver Broncos photos and videos. But even with over 5,000 subscribers, his infrequent art posts receive little to no response.

“I talk to my partner a lot about this strange divide between arts and sports,” Peitsmeyer said. “I’m also an art historian, so I really struggle with these lines, or in fact, maybe I overlap them, but it seems like few other people do.”

Peitsmeyer says the campus community doesn’t have much cohesion between sports and art, but both would benefit if they did.

“In college there’s usually liberal arts and then there’s football,” Peitsmeyer said. “It’s all kind of separate. When people see me in a jersey for the first time on a Sunday in the NFL season, they’re like, ‘I had no idea you liked football. I can’t do it. believe.'”

In the vast intellectual wasteland that separates the two, there are people who seek to unite them through various media. There’s a thriving community on Instagram and Twitter showcasing the full spectrum of what sports art can be – from hand-embroidered baseball cards to something as simple as memes.

LJ Rader is an Emmy-winning sports analyst and television producer based in New York City. He creates memes by combining sports photography with classic works of art. His Instagram account, aptly named @artbutmakeitsports, has nearly a thousand posts. Like Peitsmeyer, he bridges the gap between fine art and sport.

“I have to say that a lot of the art is in the poses, and the ones he compares them to can connect us through time,” Peitsmeyer said. “I wonder, if something like this goes viral, if it would start to increase people’s desire to understand art.”


Art: Primavera, by Sandro Botticelli, late 1470s or early 1480s

While Peitsmeyer is an art analyst who appreciates sports, Rader is a sports analyst who appreciates art.

Basketball and football may seem like strange lenses through which to view centuries-old paintings and sculptures, but for Rader, it’s second nature.

Rader viewed sports footage of Kaimin and created some of his own sports and artistic mashups.

“There’s one in one of the basketball games that could very easily be a Degas,” Rader said.

In 90 seconds, he had lined up a photo of UM Basketball’s Kyle Owens with Edgar Degas’ 1930s Spanish Dancer sculpture. A buzzer-beater in the study of art history.

“I think most people have an innate desire to compare and contrast things,” Peitsmeyer said. “So when you see something, even if it’s art, you don’t necessarily have a point of reference.”

If you browse Rader’s portfolio of mashups, the comparison becomes obvious. Art has always been about capturing moving figures and sports are, in essence, just many figures in constant motion. Rader’s Instagram, which has more than 13,000 followers, finds a way to appeal to college sports fans and art lovers simultaneously.

Some of Rader’s classic art comparisons have garnered shares from big names in the sport like Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks, and some of his other followers include Olympians and former WNBA players. But he says he has little to gain from doing sports memes.

“To use a sporting phrase, I make them for the love of the game,” Rader said.

While he’s not uncomfortable being personally associated with the account, he doesn’t think he deserves much credit for comparing other people’s creations. While some of his creations can be subversive in poking fun at fragile egos or chauvinistic institutions, most of @artbutmakeitsports simply offers a visual comparison of two often disparate subjects. They are simply meant to provide a fresh perspective.

“There is a lot of modern content that I think is created for the sole purpose of being provocative in order to go viral and get more attention. And then it loses, and kind of depreciates, its value” “, Rader said. “Pollock sitting there and thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to crush it. This is going to crush Instagram’s algorithm’ – that’s when it wouldn’t be quite the same.

He often appeals to his followers in the comments to ensure the sports photographer is correctly attributed and uses the story feature to highlight the work of others making sports-themed art, like @laurengoesthere or @the_currency_project.

For Rader, sport and art are both a collective experience. Sports teams are a catalyst for community desire. A group of people known as “fans” gather to share the anticipation of triumph or the shared despair of defeat. Likewise, art fills a niche of mutual experience. An artist puts forward a representation intended to arouse a certain emotion in all who see it.

Artists have captured sporting moments in their work for centuries because those moments of triumph or defeat were always relatable. From the ancient Greeks, to the French impressionists, to Basquiat. Art was a way to share these emotional moments beyond the singular point in time and space where they occur.

Using these artistic representations to create memes in a digital space is a logical adaptation.

“A painter paints a picture and at the time that’s all a picture could be,” Rader said. “I can’t imagine Van Gogh knew you could take what he did and distribute it on the internet.”

Understanding art, even the most abstract of art, is about finding a point of reference that connects with you as a viewer. Whether either side realizes it or not, the art is very much inspired by sports. Seeing the image of a basketball game reflected in a Renaissance painting gives a new angle of interpretation to the two.

“I love going to the European wing of the Met,” Rader said. “Just seeing paintings that I saw growing up and seeing my perspective on them change. Each time you enter with a slightly different purpose, it means something a little different to you.

If art and sport more often share the field, then maybe it can bring the two disciples closer together. More athletes are studying in art programs, or more art students are enjoying Griz games. Maybe having a more connected perspective can help people revisit those ideas they’ve put aside and let people in the arts and sports be the same.

“I remember one day I saw (UM head football coach) Bobby Hauck in the art building,” Peitsmeyer said. “I thought it was really cool that he was in our building. I don’t know why he was there, but the coach of the football team should be in the building sometimes, and vice versa. The head of the art department should be at the football game.

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