The Beautiful Game, Rendered in Art

BY Jason Kane  May 26, 2010 at 1:42 PM EST

The third in a series of stories about the upcoming World Cup in South Africa, which begins June 11. Previously, Art Beat looked at the Diski, a dance created just for the World Cup, and Soccer Cinema, a traveling theater that has been screening films all over South Africa.

2010 World CupSoccer is often called “the beautiful game” — its beauty found in the fluid motion of a kick or a perfectly weighted pass, the dance-like dribbling of the ball or in the symmetry of freshly painted lines on a field.

At least that’s the thought behind 2010 Fine Art, a Cape Town, South Africa-based company which has commissioned more than 100 artists from around the globe to paint, whittle and sculpt works inspired by the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Artists from the 32 nations that qualified for the tournament participated.

“We wanted to try to utilize this incredible opportunity of the first-ever African FIFA World Cup to promote both Africa as a cultural destination but also the depth of African fine art talent,” says Rob Spaull, general manager of 2010 Fine Art. “We wanted to get away from this perception that I think a lot of people hold where African fine art is regarded as being curio or memorabilia art as opposed to really significant, intrinsically valuable fine art itself.”

The initiative has two collections and several aims, says Spaull. The first collection — 2010 International Fine Art — showcases works from the 32 qualifying countries. The pieces are as diverse as the nations from which they come, depicting everything from dream-like soccer matches to a giant soccer ball composed entirely of Japanese women.

At the same time, the African Fine Art Collection gathers 150 pieces of photography, sculpture, painting and
woodcuts from artists throughout the continent.

Photographer Clint Strydom’s black-and-white portraits of South African youths on improvised soccer fields bring the nation’s deeply entrenched love of soccer into focus, while sculptor Keith Calder crafted 11 bronze statues called “The Footballers” using his signature angular lines and sweeping curves to capture the energy and motion of a team in the middle of a game.

Despite early plans to host exhibits in all 32 of the qualifying countries, the global recession prevented many galleries from participating, says Spaull. Still, showings pushed forward in South Africa, Germany, Denmark, Honduras, New Zealand and China.

The original works from both the African and international collections will be auctioned June 22 to 24 in Johannesburg during the final stages of the World Cup’s group games.

To see more of the artwork, visit 2010 Fine Art.

(All images courtesy of 2010 Fine Art.)