Monday, November 17, 2008

Fine arts didn’t shy away from football either. Here is a sample:
The painting by Bulgarian modernist Kiril Tzonev (1896-1961) is appropriately named ‘Boy Football Player’ and most likely was done in the 1930s. But similarly to the other arts, painting and sculpture did not produce major works. Football resists artistic representations. In my view, it is because the high drama of the real sport. No representation can make it livelier or more dramatic. No representation can substitute the real game – representation is always cheap substitute, pale and lifeless, predictable. Even the notorious lack of culture characterizing both players and fans is not important here: the sport itself prohibits artistic representation, because it is art itself, containing all artistic elements and tensions. Thus, football art comforts to realism – a statue of an old star adorns a stadium or two, preferably a faithful copy of the real person. Photography is favoured most: from collectors to club museums, it is the photos collected and displayed. Fine art is left for the official posters of big tournaments. Yes, Juan Miro made the official poster for World Cup finals 1982. I, however, prefer another one:
- the poster for the first World Cup in 1930, Uruguay. The art-deco design of Guillermo Laborde (1886-1940).
No real football fan can be fooled by some highfalutin ‘art’ – he knows art. He knows this:
toothless Joe Jordan, wearing the national jersey of Scotland. Yes, he was known as ‘Dracula’ in England and ‘The Shark’ in Italy because of absent teeth, but football was still ‘the poor man ballet’ in the 1970s.