Georgia Museum of Art

University of Georgia

Athens, GA



All-Stars: American Sporting Prints from the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams


The Georgia Museum of Art will kick off the 1999 football season with All-Stars: American Sporting Prints from the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams, an exhibition focusing on America's favorite pastime: sports. Organized by The American Federation of Arts, the exhibition includes 65 prints by more than 50 artists and will be on view from September 25 through November 21, 1999, during the height of the University of Georgia's football season in the Philip Henry Alston Jr. Gallery and in the Knox Gallery of Prints and Drawings.

All-Stars will provide an intriguing look at American social history and illustrate how the increase in leisure time in America during the 20th century led to the growth of popular sports and to artists' representations of sports.

Featuring prints from the past century, All-Stars includes works by American artists famous for their depiction of sports, such as George Bellows, as well as those not usually associated with the subject, such as Winslow Homer, Alex Katz, John Baldessari and Robert Rauschenberg. Ranging from the popular to the unusual, the sports depicted in the exhibition include baseball, football, basketball, swimming, boating, boxing, polo, rodeo and discus throwing, among others. (right: Joseph Golinkin, First Round Knockout, 1938, Lithograph, 15 7/8 x 19 7/8 inches, Collection of Reba and Dave William, Photo Courtesy AFA)

"Artists choose sports imagery because of the opportunity it affords for innovation and expression, no matter what their personal styles may be," said Reba Williams, guest curator of the exhibition. This exhibition documents the richness of American art and American sports and increases our appreciation of both."

Several prints in the exhibition depict famous sports personalities: Childe Hassam portrayed tennis champion Helen Wills in an etching of 1924 and James deWoody created a heroic image of New York Mets pitcher Ron Darling in a pochoir (stencil print) of 1987. (left: James deWoody, Pitch, 1987, Pochoir, 15 1/4 x 18 3/8 inches, Collection of Reba and Dave William, Photo Courtesy AFA)

As the exhibition will demonstrate, artists often use sports imagery to create social commentary or satire. Examples include Bellows' Tennis (l920), illustrating the exclusive social scene of Newport, Rhode Island; George Wiggin's Fight Gallery (ca. 1935), featuring a spectator screaming for blood at a boxing match; and Paul Cadmus' Polo Spill (1938), depicting a frightened society matron nearly crushed by a falling horse.

While offering visual enjoyment to all sports enthusiasts, All-Stars also provides an overview of artistic technique and style. With works encompassing the entire spectrum of print processes, the exhibition will allow audiences to compare the techniques of etching, engraving, aquatint, drypoint, wood and linoleum cut, wood engraving, lithography, pochoir and screenprint. The featured works also reflect the major art styles of the past century: for example, the realism in Homer's Cutting a Figure, of 1871 (see left, woodcut, 11.8 x 18.7 inches, Collection of Reba and Dave William, Photo Courtesy AFA), can be compared with the surrealism of Edward Landon's Badminton, of 1943, and the conceptualism of Baldessari's two-paneled Juggler's Hand (with Diver), of 1988.

The artistic challenge of depicting motion in sports has been met with a variety of responses. Some artists use the repetition of forms to create a sense of movement, as seen in Peter Grippe's Bicycle Rider (1945) and Phil Paradise's Into the Stretch (ca. 1950). In contrast, Richard Bosman captures two distinct motions of fly-casting by using the device of a double image in The Cast (1993).

The exhibition is drawn from the outstanding American print collection of Dave and Reba Williams, which, encompassing more than 8,000 works, is considered to be the largest of its kind in private ownership. All-Stars is the third selection of prints from the Williams' collection to be circulated to museum and university art galleries by The American Federation of Arts.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated booklet with an essay by Diane Cochrane that examines the relationship of artists and sport as expressed in American prints over the last century.

The exhibition is organized by The American Federation of Arts. It is a project of ART ACCESS II, a program of the AFA with major support from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. The Arden Group, Atlanta, and Director's Circle members Mr. and Mrs. Jack Turner provided generous additional support for this exhibition. The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Friends of the Museum will sponsor an opening reception for the exhibition on September 24, 1999.

Read more about the Georgia Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/26/10

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