The basketball was deflated, spray-painted or covered with 24-karat gold leaf. They were carved out of porcelain, made of cement, or stacked into giant pyramids. They splashed onto canvas, carved into cheeky jack-o-lanterns, and flattened out like petals.
Wandering galleries, museums and studios, browsing auction catalogues and social media feeds, it’s starting to become apparent: the art world is increasingly filled with basketballs.
“It’s like the best sport ever,” said Jonas Wood, who has become one of the most popular painters in the world while making basketball a recurring theme in his work.
Artistic superstars who have considered the sport over the past few years are revisiting their work on basketball-specific programming. Young artists play as ardent fans, cautious skeptics, or nostalgic adults. The market is responding.
Consider a cross-section of a recent exhibition: Last summer, influential artist David Hammons made a painting by bouncing a dirt-stained basketball on paper at Nahmad Contemporary on the Upper East Side, titled for “Basketball and love.” This spring, Chelsea’s Jack Shainman Gallery is exhibiting Barkley L. Hendricks, died 2017in a named “In the paint.”
don’t use it with Basketball-Oriented Group Exhibition The exhibition titled “In the Paint” opened at a local gallery in Toronto this year or another exhibition in Toronto a few years ago also known as “In the Paint” William Benton Art Museum in Connecticut. The Witherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, presents a basketball-inspired group show, “To the basket,” 2020.
“We filled a nearly 5,000-square-foot gallery, and I could really do Parts 2 and 3 because there was so much great work there,” said Weatherspoon exhibit curator Emily Stamey. In the weeks leading up to the show, attendance hit an all-time high.
Artists and others in the industry say the proliferation of basketball as a discipline and medium in the arts is the result of a fusion of multiple cultural currents and creative impulses.
With the rise of players like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan, the generation of artists currently at the pinnacle of their power has matured over the past few decades as the NBA has exploded in popularity. Even artists who are not fans of the game said they observed how permeating it was in society.
“We grew with the sports industry park,” said Derek Fordjour, 48, who painted a portrait of Johnson. Solo Exhibition This year at the David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles. “So artists, as cultural watchers, are of course strongly influenced by this dominant force.”
Fordjour and others also point to the incremental, belated diversification of art spaces and institutions — with a strong focus on black artists in the market in recent years — and a general rethinking of what can be considered fine art, which has sparked more ideas and influences from pop and street culture and mainstream business.
“The demographics people are seeing are definitely changing,” said Hank Williams Thomas, 46, who repeatedly draws inspiration from the sport in his work, including 22-foot bronze sculpture of Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid’s arm Installed at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.
For the artist, therefore, the basketball can serve as both a powerful, interpretable symbol and a banal object of modern American life.
“It’s like painting a still life of a fruit bowl,” says New York-based sculptor Hugh Hayden.
But Hayden, his Chelsea Lisson Gallery Solo Exhibition Last summer featured basketball hoops woven from rattan and vines, acknowledging that basketballs and fruit bowls elicit different responses.
“There’s a huge waiting list,” Hayden said of his basketball work. “I can score 100 basketball goals, but that doesn’t satisfy the demand for them.”
The sports-inspired work these artists grew up seeing in museums and books, to the extent they saw it, often came from baseball, they said.
But today, baseball Weakening of cultural relevanceand the simultaneous rise of basketball as a cultural force is clearly visible in galleries across the country.
“Baseball is the poetry of growing up, and I still cry when I see baseball,” says New York-based painter Andrew Kuo. “But my heart beats when I see a basketball game.”
Guo kept his fans separate from his artistic practice—”painting all day, screen printing Stephen Marbury’s shirts at night”—until Jeremy Lin’s exciting rise to the Knicks in 2012 forced him to work Handling matches more directly.
He compares the recent surge of basketball in galleries—a snowballing dynamic that combines inspiration, evolution, market acceptance and simple replication—to the way Eurostep is gradually taking over the NBA
“Our generation is growing up to be people who create things,” said Guo, 44, who last year co-authored an irreverent, illustrated encyclopedia of games, “Basketball Fun” with writer Ben Detrick. (Guo and Detrick also contributed to The New York Times.)
Basketball, of course, has filtered the art of generations.
Andy Warhol including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar In a series of portraits of athletes he made in 1977.
In 1986, the 78-year-old Hammons improvised a series of outdoor basketballs about 30 feet high called the “Higher Purpose” He described to the New York Times that year as “Anti-Basketball” sculpture. (The art world made a splash in 2013, when a frosted glass basketball goal was adorned with a crystal candle holder made by Hammons in 2000. Sold at auction for $8,005,000.)
Any hoops sitting in the gallery at least have a roundabout presence in the conversation with Jeff Koons and the hoops he started suspended in a fish tank 1985.
‘s editor “Practicing Together: Basketball and Contemporary Art”, A book published last year traced basketball-related art back in 1913 in a lithograph titled “Basketball Girl.”
“Almost from the moment it was born, basketball has had an art,” he said. Dan Peterson, one of the editors. “But I think there’s been a clear uptick in the last few years.”
Weatherspoon curator Stamey is excited about the excess work, from artists involved in the movement from almost infinite angles, as she organizes the museum’s exhibition.
The exhibit features works from Canadian artists such as Esma MuhammadAt 29, she sewed NBA jerseys into prom dresses as a way to question the interplay between sports and gender roles in her childhood, and David HoffmanAt 59, he installed a giant pyramid of 650 basketballs, linking the grandeur and moral ambiguity of modern sport to the sport of ancient Egyptian structures.
Elsewhere in the world, London-based artist Alvaro Barrington made Basketball sitting in a crate full of cement A recurring theme in his runway shows in London, New York and Los Angeles over the past year.exist Richard Prince Exhibition Currently on view at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, a weathered basketball goal sits askew in the center of the room.Later this month, Detroit’s Cranbrook Museum of Art will host a solo exhibition by Tyrell Winston, who Schedule basketball and nets He found massive formations.
The growing interplay between fine art and fashion also brought basketball to the runway: artist Josh Smith collaborated with Givenchy on the Spring/Summer 2022 collection, Basketball Lantern Toteand other costumes with the same imagery, recreating the jack-o-lanterns he made in 2015.
“Basketball intersects with so many themes, perspectives, cultures we talk about and different things that interest us,” Stammy said. “That’s why it’s such a rich topic, and why so many artists are drawn to it.”
The NBA is now supporting this wave of work and engaging directly with the art world with increasing frequency.
Artist Victor Solomon has become a partner of choice within the league, producing like Stained glass backboard and porcelain basketball Worked with clients such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Nike and the Boston Celtics. The NBA recently commissioned Solomon to work with Tiffany & Co to redesign the trophy the eventual champion Boston Celtics or Golden State Warriors will lift this month.
Two years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers took the unusual step of naming the New York artist Daniel Arsham as their creative director. The year before that, Arsham, 41, had installed a large fiberglass and plaster project, “Mobile Basketball” As part of a redesign by team majority owner Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers’ home arena features more than 100 works by nearly two dozen other artists, including Nina Chanel Abney and KAWS, around the building.
This month, Arsham will present “Le Modular du Basketball,” a solo exhibition in Marseille, France, transforming the top floor of the Le Corbusier building into a gym-inspired art space, whose work combines the renowned architect’s visual language with the ethos of basketball. universe.
Wood, 45, is one of the art world’s biggest basketball fans, digging from the game of basketball and his own nostalgia for inspiration. When he first moved to Los Angeles 20 years ago, he adored Bird’s upbringing and regularly played pickup games with other artists. His studio today has two hoops, a throne in the shape of a giant basketball And countless other basketball gadgets.
“Basketball is rock,” said Wood, who has a Clippers season ticket and often finds visuals for his likeness in trading cards. “It’s hip-hop. It’s box office.”
Marty Eisenberg, a prominent New York collector, owns several of Wood’s paintings, including a 2004 portrait of a bird, which he likens to owning a Babe Ruth card .
But Eisenberg was haunted by someone who escaped: a painting of Chris Kaman, the hairy former Clippers center, from Wood’s first solo show at the Los Angeles Black Dragon Society in 2006. Eisenberg missed the painting, which was bought by California art dealer Jeff Poe. Wood’s work today is often worth six figures.
“Poe always had it on my head, and he had a portrait of Chris Kaman,” Eisenberg said. “It was one of Jonas Wood’s greatest works. It was, what, a thousand dollars.”
Since then, gaming has infiltrated every corner of the art world.
Last year, famed portrait artist Kehinde Wiley began selling basketballs featuring images of his 2017 paintings “The Death of Saint Joseph” $175 to benefit his non-profit arts organization in Senegal. (The plastic mount for the ball is sold separately for $35.)
Artist Hebru Brantley’s work has been collected by Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Basketball in doodle style Most recently for sports brand Wilson, while French street artist Mr. Brainwash “Broken Basketball” His own last year.
even the modern art museum sell basketball – Designed by Italian multidisciplinary artist Marco Oggian – $119.
In the midst of all this, it’s easy to forget that the art world hasn’t been completely replaced by basketball fans, and there are plenty of art lovers happy to forget the sport.
Advisor to Jack Eisenberg Global Art Information and an avid basketball fan (and Marty Eisenberg’s son), who laughed when he recalled attending an opening ceremony in New York a few years ago and taking a break from the party to watch a big college game .
“I told them, ‘I have to watch Syracuse play Duke,'” he said. “These people are like, ‘What does this mean? I don’t know what that means.