Shaq Attacks Art World in ‘Size DOES Matter’

BY Tom LeGro  March 11, 2010 at 12:41 PM EDT

Shaquille O'NealWhen the FLAG Art Foundation decided it wanted to showcase an exhibition of works exploring how scale is used in contemporary art, it decided to expand its search beyond the art world to find a curator.

The foundation thought “big.” Immediately, one name came to mind: Shaq.

That’s NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal.

“In this case, we thought, ‘size,’” said Stephanie Roach, director of the FLAG Art Foundation. “‘Let’s think, who would be a totally outrageous, amazingly, off-the-wall person to suggest for this?’ Of course, Shaq came to mind.”

After hearing the foundation’s pitch, O’Neal was immediately on board.

“I named this art show ‘Size DOES Matter,’ because when something is so big and so beautiful, people have to take a second look,” O’Neal said playfully. “And I picked out some beautiful stuff by some great artists.”

Indeed, the names included in the show are big, if not their pieces. Chuck Close, Ron Mueck, Jeff Koons, Elizabeth Peyton, Corban Walker and Cindy Sherman are among the dozens of artists represented.

The 7-foot-1, 350-pound center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, four-time NBA champion and 15-time all star, O’Neal is well known for his exploits off of the basketball court. He has starred in movies; cut rap records; earned a master’s degree in business administration; and dabbled in law enforcement.

“I was curious to see what he was going to do,” said Close. “But I have to say, I am really very pleasantly surprised. I think he put together an interesting selection of work. And he did a whole hell of a lot better figuring out what art to put in here than I would get shooting hoops, I’ll tell you that.”

“Size DOES Matter” at the FLAG Art Foundation runs through May 27.

More of our conversations with Close and artist Willard Wigan is after the jump.