Nobody else captures childhood hero worship like the one and only Lynda Barry.
Ward Roberts’ colorful basketball court photographs look like playgrounds from after the apocalypse. I found them on Tumblr and couldn’t get enough.
The tropical public spaces that Ward records are abandoned. No people or players. The empty courts with neatly painted baselines have this mix of careful human attention to detail and impersonal detachment. It’s totally spooky and rad.
I wanted to see more, but I had no idea who the photographer was. Nobody gave any attribution. So I went down a deep Tumblr rabbit hole to find their source… No luck. Only after some hardcore reverse-Google-Image-searching did Ward Roberts’ name finally pop-up.
I discovered that Ward’s court photographs are showing right now in NYC’s new TUNICA gallery, so I got in touch to ask him a few questions about his thoughts on Tumblr.
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City, Phoenix Suns | Tags: Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller
“He was a great con man. Ya know, he was always crying to the ref, running off, flopping. Ya know, knock you down, smack you and act like he was the one getting smacked. I … ya know … tell ya … I hated Reggie.”
– Patrick Ewing
image via Fat Shawn Kemp
Filed under: Art, Basketball, Bread City, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Michael Jordan, New York Knicks | Tags: 1990s Culture, Courtside, John Starks, Jonah Hill, Michael Jordan, NBA
“The evolution of the Hollywood seat began in 2007, when the NBA allowed teams to shrink the size of their scorer’s table to boost the number of revenue-generating seats…
In New York, the Knicks have 145 floor seats priced from $2,850 to $3,600 per seat per game, or between $122,550 and $154,800 for a typical full regular-season schedule at Madison Square Garden. All are sold out and the majority of floor-seat ticket holders are individual ticket holders. Yes, Lee owns his seats.”
– From Sports Business Journal, 5/21/2012
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.