Monday, August 10, 2009

Parallel Obsessions

Often when explaining why my passion for the stylized vocabulary and seemingly overdeveloped insideryness of contemporary art isn't necessarily any more elitist than other potential interests, I'll draw parallels between the art world and the sports world. For some sports fans, maintaining an obsessive grasp on the stats of their favorites teams is simply all part of the fun. It's not a matter of feeling they're better than anyone else that drives some fans to immerse themselves in the facts and figures or jargon and personalities, or to spend hours debating them with their friends or colleagues. It's a sincere love of all things related to their passion. Likewise for art, in my opinion. It's simply a matter of where your interests lie.

Never in all my years of leaning on this parallel, however, did I predict that the two worlds could overlap as seemlessly as they're about to in Dallas, Texas. explains:
Here's something you don't hear everyday: The owners of NFL team the Dallas Cowboys have launched an art program named after the franchise, which will commission contemporary artists to create monumentally scaled, site-specific works for the recently completed Cowboys Stadium.

The program kicks off with 14 commissioned works, including contributions by heavyweights Franz Ackermann, Annette Lawrence, Lawrence Weiner, and Olafur Eliasson, as well as acquisitions of existing pieces by Doug Aitken, Wayne Gonzales, Jacqueline Humphries, and another work by Eliasson. Pieces will mainly be installed in high-traffic locations, such as the four principal entries and the walls above the main concourse concession areas, which measure 15 by 114 feet. Some will wrap around stadium walls.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who conceived of the program with his wife and co-owner, Gene, said: "Cowboys Stadium isn't just a place to go and see a game or a concert, it’s an experience you share with your family and your community. That will include things that a lot of people wouldn’t anticipate seeing at a stadium — like contemporary art. Football is full of the unexpected and the spontaneous — it can make two strangers into friends. Art has the power to do that too, to get people talking, and looking, and interacting."

The power of just about anything to get people taking, looking and interacting is worth nuturing, in my opinion. I'm highly impressed with the Jones' vision here, I must say. It may just get me to do something I had never dreamed I'd do in a million years: go see a Dallas Cowboys game (sorry, Sis...I know they're your team).

Labels: art viewing, sports


Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...

It's an amazing news!!!
everything is connected.

Art really can chance the world...
little by little the sport world for instance


8/10/2009 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

So what are we celebrating? An event that is about lending accessibility to contemporary art or the whole obtuseness of the art discourse? At least this will serve to test my presomptions that some of contemporary art (like Eliasson) could be very easy to grasp by the masses.

I still think that if your art is better described in words than in itself, than you should consider writing about art, or do art that is about writing (Weiner).



8/10/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Is this a step forward for American culture, and a gift of art to the community, and a way to bring the community together? (Do we really imagine most Cowboys fans will stand around after the game, discuss the art in a positive way, and end up with their arms around each other?)

Or is this instead a way to tempt major corporations, who are eager to impress their clients (more than a few of whom are collectors), to plunk down a million or so dollars for a skybox? If creating status for the new stadium among the financial upper class is the real reason for the art, that's fine, and quite possibly a brilliant marketing idea.

But is this philanthropy - art for the people installed at Mr. Jones's expense? Or are tax dollars involved - requiring Mr. Jones to justify the expense to taxpayers? If the latter is the case, more honesty and less high-sounding BS would be nice for a change, as always.

8/10/2009 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

+very easy to grasp

I think I meant "easily grasped".
It's so hard to always feel like a foreign in a predominantly english world.

Cedric C

8/10/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger DarthFan said...

It will be interesting to see if any of these artists manage to come up with a hit - they aren't infallible (Eiason's falls were widely ignored)

The fact that none of the artists are no-name shows a lack of connoisseurship or an overbearing interest in prestige - all the right moves - that's what sports teams are. But who hasn't heard of an artist being scooped up from the farm team as a star punter?
Where is the Cinderella story here?
Can't we have just one idiot running the wrong way to a TD?

There are several ways to approach fandom in sports - you can be up on all the statistics, or you can know the key plays. Math heads love statistics - like conceptual art. So maybe there is an undiscovered fan base like the people who do Sudoku at the superbol, or should I say, SUPERBROW.

What next, beer in stem ware?

Most people (populists) like phenomenological art - think with the senses kind of thing. Esthetics as touchy feely stuff. Visceral.
Dale Chihuly, Andy Goldsworthy, Gormley.

Olafur Eliason is full of these kinds of parlour tricks. I don't buy it. Too easy. And on the other hand Lawrence Weiner's "poetry" (as most people will see his word art) isn't really poetry - it frustrates the impulse to find any sublime moment or punchline.

There is no punchline. I moved the goal posts. Get it?

8/10/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

EW, interesting article. Might be as likely to get art fans to the football games as to get the sports-minded talking about art. Doubt either will happen that much, but who knows.
BTW, it's my guess that most female artists, even successful ones, would probably prefer not to be referred to as heavyweights :-)

8/10/2009 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

The owners of sports teams, as well as many players have personal art collections. So it's a short leap for those folks to broaden their acquisitions to a larger, more public venue. I applaud it (even if it creeps me out a little). Perhaps we'll get as used to seeing art in this kind of public venue as we do in corporate atriums and other large public spaces.

BTW, David: You guess wrong. Overweight, no. Heavyweight, we should all be so lucky--whatever the sex :-)

8/10/2009 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I hope you don't just react with anger to this, and rather you self reflect, but I find your comment about women artists objecting to the term "heavyweight" to be extremely offensive. The sexism seems to come out of nowhere. You should look back at your comment and think about that. I am a female artist. I have no problem with the term heavyweight, and wish it did apply to me.

As for art in football stadiums - I suspect it will all be very safe and non-challenging to people, much like corporate art. I still think it's great they are doing it, but would be more impressed if they really took a risk with the work they showed.

8/10/2009 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Dear Anon. Sorry you took offense. None intended. May we all be heavyweights.

8/10/2009 04:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed I await your post about the controversy and hysteria one of the works these artist create that causes Jerry Jones to remove it, I would be more immpressed if all the pro sport leauges took a portion of the Billions they make every year and created an arts foundation and gave grants to unknown artist.

I agree with the point that this is just a masturbatory act, it has nothing to do with art and everything to do with posturing.

8/10/2009 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed I await your post about the controversy and hysteria one of the works these artist create that causes Jerry Jones to remove it, I would be more immpressed if all the pro sport leauges took a portion of the Billions they make every year and created an arts foundation and gave grants to unknown artist.

I agree with the point that this is just a masturbatory act, it has nothing to do with art and everything to do with posturing.

Nothing to do with art?

I think I could see your point if they were installing works by folks not internationally recognized as, you know, ARTISTS, but since they are, I think you have to concede that it indeed has something to do with art.

8/10/2009 08:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the apology David.

8/10/2009 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

If art is about unreflexive status display then ABSOLUTELY this project has to do with art - the part of art I love! Put your money on the wall! Let em know how much you revere (New York's) idea of what art is! Don't think, spend!

If it turns out to be about considered boundary pushing I wil be pleasntly surprised. (I am doubtfull - but then I think the Public Art Fund is about 50% fraudulent nepotism) But I have been told by anonymous powers to render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars.

Bread and Circuses!
- Jevenal

David the joke would be better if you directed it at someone in the art world who is known for being sexist and offensive and overweight. It would still be in poor taste (but that's the way I like it).

8/10/2009 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you have to concede that it indeed has something to do with art"

about as much as buying a Bentley has to do with buying a car

In fact if it was an open call to artist to make submissions for the sites and a panel formed to choose from the submissions and "folks not internationally recognized as, you know, ARTISTS" were awarded commissions it would have more to do about Art. I am just pointing out that commissions from brand named Artists is more about the person making the commision, saying "I have the money and power to buy those artists, buy a ROLEX, wear Armani, drive a Bentley etc..etc...

So no, it has nothing to do with art, and everything to do with buying "ART"...

I will hold off refusing to concede until all the works are installed, and if by chance Art happens I will concede..until then I reserve the right to remain skeptical. :-)

8/10/2009 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Justin said...

Art is meant to be viewed by all no? If it is seen by someone who prefers to spend their Sundays at a stadium rather than the museum, so be it, they will be introduced to something new that day. What does it matter if it is a calculated move by the owner? Everybody gets something out of it.

8/11/2009 03:14:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

One architectural critic, who took the $15 tour of Cowboys Stadium, both admired the basic design and recognized, as he walked around the place, that he was seeing "one excess trumping another." The word "excess" comes up a lot in reviews of the 1.15 billion dollar Cowboys Stadium. Jerry Jones himself admits it could have been built for a third less, but he wanted the "wow factor." The Arlington locals, who partly funded the project and know it well (yet don't receive discounts), call it "Jerry World."

Turns out that Jerry and Gene Jones have funded the Cowboy Arts Program themselves. But whenever big egos are using big tax dollars (325 million), it's good to keep asking questions.

The sad thing is that art continues to be associated with collector egos, brand name artists and financial excess. We thought the Great Recession would change all that. Nope.

8/11/2009 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'm sorry guys but I've never quite reconciled the sort of "big art paid for by rich patrons is bad" response to stories like this with what we know about some of the world's treasures, like the Sistine Chapel. I appreciate that Anonymous is at least waiting to see the work installed in the stadium before passing final judgment, but even being skeptical at this point seems reflexive.

8/11/2009 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

I myself don't believe that big art, paid for by rich patrons, is a bad thing. Yet the circumstances surrounding that big art is another matter. When rich patrons are creating incredible excess, and tax dollars are involved, some skepticism is warranted, and questions should be asked. (Like, does "funding it themselves" really mean what it seems to mean?) Anyways, you're right, Ed, that we should withhold judgment on the works of art until we see them completed. The Roman Colosseum, where the worst sort of excesses were funded by taxes, is still a beautiful work of art/architecture.

8/11/2009 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

About dissing Eliasson:

I know the waterfalls sucked but there's a few valid works from this artist. It took I don't know how many years of overall or colourfield painting to get to his retina spectral rooms. The Moma retro was bad because it was missing some of his more flamboyant works, some that I saw in biennials that really impressed me. I think Eliasson got snobbed because his art is very simple. But
it doesn't make it uninteresting. The waterfalls were badly designed (awful engineering), but the idea was interesting.

Art and Sport:

Some video art about Zidane or that mega installation by Harun Farocki were about Sport.
I remember walking in Socrate Park for a group show about sport. Does anyone remember?

As far as Big Art Big Patrons, it really depends on the Patrons. Dia were serious, wrether you like the results or not.

Cedric Casp

8/11/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

"big art paid for by rich patrons is bad"

I don't think anyone here is unequivocally saying this.

What I don't buy is that a bunch of the usual suspects somehow is better than including some unknowns, displaying idiosyncratic (individual) taste for the purposes of decorating a stadium - which is the implication of not involving any local or unknown or even less well known artists in the mix (if that is the case).

I've seen bad Contemporary Art in stadiums, BTW - so I know it can be done.

And Olafur Eliason's Falls fell flat due to engineering - yes, but many artists have good ideas, so I don't care. Do it right or no bananna.

8/11/2009 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger tony said...

Seems like the thin edge of the red wedge to me - another step down the slippery slope to socialism. Wasn't this approach the very self-same used by those filthy Commies who insisted on opening up art to the masses; not to mention universal health-care & free education. Wake up America - you're going pinko ! Dear God - the next thing will be that the privileged elite & abusers of power will be called to account. The country is going down the tubes.

8/11/2009 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annette Lawrence? She's probably the most subversive artist in the bunch (her works in the '97 Biennial were made from her own menstrual blood). Otherwise, it's just more of the same. Not that I expect much curatorial avantegardism from a football stadium.

8/11/2009 06:21:00 PM  

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