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Visions of Victory
June 17 - August 13, 2006
Photography and sports have evolved hand-in-hand for more than 100 years. The idea of stopping time -- glimpsing motion itself in its infinite forms -- applies equally to viewing athletics and to creating photographic images. The two worlds, those of the athlete and the photographer, come together in the special exhibition Visions of Victory Presented by Mututal of Omaha, on view at Joslyn Art Museum from June 17 through August 13, 2006. (right: Robert Riger, Willie Mays Stealing Third Base, 1955, © The Robert Riger Living Trust, Courtesy James Danziger Gallery)
Visions of Victory gathers 147 images from around the world by such acknowledged masters of the photographic medium as William Henry Jackson (1843-1942, one of America's foremost frontier photographers and artists (who had his studio in Omaha), Annie Leibovitz (an American photographer known for her images of celebrities including political figures, musicans, actors, and athletes), and David Burnett (a globetrotting photojournalist recently named one of the "100 Most Important People in Photography" by American Photo Magazine). These renowned artists are presented along with lesser known and anonymous photographers whose lenses have captured some of the greatest moments in sports history. Featured sports include auto racing, baseball, basketball, boxing, cycling, dirt biking, diving, figure skating, football, golf, gymnastics, harness racing, ice hockey, kayaking, rowing, sailing, soccer, steeplechase, swimming, tennis, thoroughbred racing, track and field, and wrestling, among others. A few highlights:
Neil Leifer snaps Mohammed Ali triumphant over a defeated Sonny Liston. Seen by millions, this is Leifer's most famous photograph and is considered one of the most memorable sports photographs of all time. Leifer was one of only two photographers who captured the moment using color film. A long-time Sports Illustrated photographer, Leifer completed 150 covers for the magazine during his career, including his first in 1962 at age 19. (left: Neil Leifer, Ali vs. Liston, 1965, 22 x 21 7/8, Sports Illustrated, © Neil Leifer)
Secretariat's gallop to a Triple Crown victory is documented by Bob Coglianese. The official track photographer for the New York Racing Association in 1972 and 1973, Coglianese captured this defining image of Secretariat. As jockey Ron Turcotte looks back on the distant challengers in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, Secretariat roars to his record breaking 31 length victory.
The U.S. hockey team's victory over the Soviets at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid is captured by Heinz Kluetmeier. One of the greatest upsets in sports history, the U.S. hockey team came from behind three times to defeat the Soviet team 4-3. Kluetmeier's famous photograph shows the wild celebration after the victory (many forget that the U.S. had to win one more game, against Finland two days later, to capture the gold medal).
Sports giants like Arthur Ashe, Wilt Chamberlain, Nadia Comaneci, Ty Cobb, Babe Didrickson, Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Joe Namath, Cal Ripkin, Jr., and Babe Ruth are portrayed at moments of determined exertion, enthusiastic celebration, or quiet reflection. These luminaries are joined by stellar images of unnamed participants in bicycling, rowing, football, and even sandlot baseball competitions.
Visions of Victory was initially organized for presentation at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta -- a tribute to the 100-year celebration of the games and the era of sports photography. It also marked a new direction in the art of photographic presentation through the use of Iris technology. The prints comprising the show are created digitally from original images by scanning slides or prints with high-resolution equipment and then altering or "retouching" them with computer technology, using a special monitor. Once the images have been corrected to conform to their original states, they are printed on the large, rotating drum of a Scitex printer. Each infinitesimal molecule of the ink's placement on the paper is determined by a computer program taken from the original scan. The Iris process is capable of rendering subtle black-and-whites in literally millions of separate hues. The works in this exhibition are printed with fine-art, archival inks that will last as long as, or longer than, even the most stable photographic prints. (right: David Burnett, Mary Decker, Los Angeles,1982, 27 1/4 x 21 1/4, © 1996 David Burnett/Contact Press Images)
Visions of Victory Presented by Mutual of Omaha is sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, in cooperation with Pindar Press, NY, and circulated by Joslyn Art Museum. Additional support provided by the Omaha World-Herald. This exhibition will travel to additional venues through 2008, including Springfield Art Museum (Springfield, MO), South Carolina State Museum (Columbia, SC), and San Antonio Museum of Art (San Antonio, TX), among others.
Guided Tours of the Exhibition at Joslyn
Guided tours of the Visions of Victory exhibition are scheduled for Saturdays, June 24, July 15, and August 12 at 11:30 am and Wednesdays, June 28 and July 26 at 1 pm. These tours are free with Museum admission, which is free from 10 am to noon on Saturdays.
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