Filed under: Art, Basketball, Los Angeles Lakers | Tags: Basketball Art, James Worthy, Jonas Woods
From artist Jonas Woods’ solo show at L.A.’s David Kordansky Gallery. For everyone on the left coast, Woods’ show closes on this Saturday, May 12th.
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City, Jeff Koons | Tags: 1980s Aesthetics, 1980s NBA, Art History, Basketball Art, Costacos Brothers, Jeff Koons
The Costacos Brothers’ awesome 1980s sports posters were hung on bedroom walls across the country with scotch tape and awe. And in 1985, they were also hung in a gallery by Jeff Koons, who went on to sell them for hundreds of thousands of dollars as his own work.
Call it a hostile art takeover. How else could Koons manage to appropriate six of the Costacos’ well-known basketball posters for Equilibrium, his first solo show? It was easy. He went to Nike, bought the rights for an undisclosed amount, and started printing the certificates of authenticity.
Curators can spin Koons’ conceptual power move this way and that. But here’s the real deal, straight from his 1992 Taschen book: “It’s about artists using art for social mobility…white middle-class kids have been using art the same way that other ethnic groups have been using basketball — for social mobility.”
In contemporary art and basketball, big personalities rule. Koons saw something of himself in the Costacos Brothers’ one-shot athlete mythologies. He indulged this superstar artist fantasy by finding a way to justify flipping the posters as his own product.
From the perspective of today’s age of 24/7 internet image curation, where support for authorship is zilch, the whole story doesn’t seem that shocking. The idea of cool images being re-contextualized is familiar to anyone who knows understands what “re-blog” means. But how many re-blogs have you heard of netting $150,000 at Christies?
Tracking down the Equilibrium posters on the web is difficult, these days. After all, creating scarcity is a key element of how Koons transformed them into expensive art objects. So like bedroom sunlight faded so many Costacos posters over the years, every blog hit devalues Koons’ work a tiny bit more. Enjoy.
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City | Tags: Basketball Art, Italo Calvino, NBA, Ron Artest
Noise vs. Lightness. Death to assisted resonance!
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Basketball, Bread City, History, Journalism, Photography, War | Tags: Basketball Archeology, Basketball History, Iraq
I. American troops play basketball in Saddam Hussein’s occupied Birthday Palace. Tikrit, Iraq, 2004.
original photo by Paolo Woods
II. The 1948 Summer Games in London was the first and only time that Iraq fielded an Olympic basketball team. They sustained five of the tournament’s worst defeats. Iraq lost to China, Korea, the Philippines, and Chile by an average of 86 points per game. The United States won gold.
III. “The next week, back in Baghdad, I had a whiskey one evening with the Time bureau manager and a pair of reporters and told them about the killings at the basketball game… The bureau manager lit another cigarette as we sat in silence for a moment. ‘And especially, basketball being a pro-Western sport was nonsense,’ he said. ‘Iraqis have been playing basketball for fifty years, since long before all this. They love it.’”
– From The End of Major Combat Operations, by Nick McDonnell
photo by Richard Mosse
Filed under: Art, Bread City, Photography, Shaq | Tags: 1990s Aesthetics, 1990s NBA, Basketball History, Hakeem Olajuwon
They just don’t make stock photo backdrops like they used to.
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City, New York City, Photography | Tags: Google Satellite View, Jenny Odell, Photography
Jenny Odell makes collages from Google Maps’ satellite view mode, like the digital print entitled Every Basketball Court in Manhattan. She writes, “From this view, the lines that make up basketball courts… become like hieroglyphs that read: people were here.”
There are at least 100 in this image. Still, there’s no way she got them all. My favorite courts are somehow obscured. Some are partially hidden from view in chain-link rooftop domes. Others are concealed below the West Side Highway, so safe from the elements that you can play a pick-up game in a hurricane. And many are simple backboards in schoolyards without lines or marks.
But Odell is right about one thing: The court is a record. There are no written accounts or pick-up game historians. The physical court itself is the only proof we have of what happened there.
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City | Tags: Basketball Art, Bryant Gumbel, David Stern, George Thompson, Painting, Racism in sports
The image of a Klansman playing basketball popped into George “Ewok” Thompson’s head fully-formed, like an image in a dream.
What emerged was a series of paintings titled Revisionist History. Thompson (who came up as a graffiti artist) takes the race issues underlying professional basketball, and blows them up huge with confrontational irony.
Earlier this month, Bryant Gumbel called the lockout as he saw it, claiming that commissioner David Stern “has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys.” It’s weird that people find this sort of commentary shocking, when racism is the white noise underlying basketball at every level. George Thompson takes the sentiment, and runs it through a science fiction ringer.
The classical execution of these paintings only adds to their surreality. Whether it’s a portrait of a masked Klansman in the triple-threat position, or posing behind a biblical sky, the striking images create a thought-provoking alternate reality.
Filed under: Art, Bread City, New York City | Tags: 1990s Aesthetics, Bootleg Culture, Ninja Turtles, Temporary Tattoos
Homemade temporary tattoo, 2011. For all the locals: keep your rep up.
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City, Fiction, Miami Heat | Tags: Basketball Art, Book Covers, Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, Lebron James
I once sat next to Ackley at this basketball game. We had a terrific guy on the team, Howie Coyle, that could sink them from the middle of the floor, without even touching the backboard or anything. Ackley kept saying, the whole goddam game, that Coyle had a perfect build for basketball. God, how I hate that stuff.
- From Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
Lebron James is one part Coyle, one part Caulfield. Haters are his phonies.
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks | Tags: Basketball Art, Danilo Gallinari, T-Shirts
Il Gallo T-Shirt design, 2010. It was made for Gallinari the Knick, but he’s #8 in Denver so the shirt works if you’re a Nugs fan. I’m still in denial about the Carmelo trade.
Filed under: Art, Bread City, History | Tags: 1990s Aesthetics, 1990s Culture, Basketball Art, Bootleg Culture, T-Shirts
While he [Matt Groening] is “flattered” by the street response to “The Simpsons,” “I must say I have mixed feelings. You have to have mixed feelings when you’re getting ripped off,” Groening says.
- The Washington Post, 6/28/90
It was more than just a bootleg. Combining hip hop culture references with hand-drawn illustrations, black Bart Simpson t-shirts were an underground phenomenon in the late 80s and early 90s. A cultural meme before the internet even existed.
Not only did the shirts look cool, but they carried a whiff of black market cache. It was the opposite of rocking a label. Black Bart didn’t mean that you had money, but he meant you were in-the-know.
The shirts were hawked in concert parking lots, hung in boardwalk tourist traps, laid out on folding tables in the Fulton Mall, and crowded into Chinatown’s fake-rolex shops. They were sold in the small, unregulated economies between the cracks of the American retail landscape. There was no headquarters to shut down. The shirts were produced and distributed through a network of independent hustlers and small fries operating concurrently.
Matt Groening couldn’t stop it. 20th Century Fox couldn’t stop it. Black Bart shirts stopped because they belonged to hip hop subculture. When they entered the mainstream, their cred burned up in the light and production got big enough to shut down.
This is my undisputed Shangri-La of bootleg Bart shirts. The MC Hammer/Jordan Flight mash-up and the composition is so fresh. Can’t touch this!
Filed under: Art, Baseball, Bread City, Brooklyn, History, New York City, Sports Photography | Tags: 1930s Culture, Brooklyn Dodgers, Ebbets Field, New York City History
The first night game at Ebbets Field was played on June 15, 1938. Colorized in 2009.