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Athletes in Art

Skaters by Cyril Power on lawson-gallery.com

In a previous post about images of dancers in art, I considered the irony of painters and photographers who seek to render one art form that is all about physical mass and motion in another art form that is all about surface and moments arrested in time.

The Runners by Cyril Power on lawson-gallery.com

But there are other ways for artists who aren’t particularly attracted to the drama and spectacle of dance to examine human movement in their works. As subjects in works of various styles and media throughout the centuries, athletes engaged in their sport are as ubiquitous as dancers performing their art.

The Eight by Cyril Power on lawson-gallery.com

20th century British artist Cyril Power, whose background was actually in architecture, made several linocuts of athletes in motion. His stylized abstract approach creates the illusion of movement with figures that appear to be moving almost too quickly for the eye to follow, who are almost reduced to the lines of movement itself.

Surfacing Figure by Allan O Mara on Zatista.com

A sampling of artists on Zatista proves that the interest in athletic activities as subjects remains strong today. Athletes can be captured up close and personal as solitary figures seemingly lost in an activity, the ultimate study of the human condition striving to achieve.

Olympic Cyclists On Track by Warren Keating on Zatista.com

Or, athletes can be captured at a distance in the midst of a group competition that creates its own unique visual composition and social dynamic. With preparations for the upcoming 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia already in the news, I am sure you’ll soon be seeing a lot more of athletes and sports as subject matter in both art and popular culture.  But if you need a sneak preview, you can always seek out your local gallery, online and off.

Brian Sylvester is a guest blogger on WallSpin, and an artist on Zatista.


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