The Art of Sport

Wednesday 13th September 2023
Location: Butler Gallery Learning & Engagement Centre
Butler Gallery, in partnership with Kilkenny Arts Festival, is pleased to present an exhibition exploring the spirit of sport as captured by a selected group of twenty-eight artists using diverse media. Conveyed through video, photography, painting, print and sculpture, the exhibition features an eclectic fusion of both Irish and International artists, displayed in our Main Gallery. A programme of archive films of Irish sport by amateurs and professionals from the 1950s onwards, curated by Irish Film Institute, is on view in the Digital Gallery throughout the exhibition.

Sport is a global language that communicates positively with a broad audience. This exhibition does not profess to take on sport as a whole, and does not include some of the more obvious of choices. Rather, the selection attempts to showcase art of substance, grace and beauty—work that draws on elements of sport that stimulate and challenge the viewer.

Wide-ranging work by artists from Ireland, Denmark, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and the USA are included along with museum loans of work by Irish artists such as Charles Brady, Louis le Brocquy and Elinor Wiltshire.

The ground breaking work of American artist Paul Pfeiffer was the inspiration for seeking out art of this nature. In 2000, Pfeiffer began a trilogy of digitally edited video installations that captured the final rounds in Muhammad Ali’s three most famous boxing matches. Long Count (Rumble in the Jungle), 2001, is a video that depicts the 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire. The two fighters and referees have been digitally erased, yet leave a visual imprint of ghostly outlines set against the backdrop of the attending crowd.

Pfeiffer shows that footage of an event can constitute proof of its authenticity even when the important subject matter is removed from it, and yet the momentousness of the occasion is lost without the main protagonists. Also by Pfeiffer is Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (31), 2017 from a photographic series in which Pfeiffer digitally erased identifiable details from photographs of professional basketball players. Pfeiffer uses the godlike appearance of athletes and iconographic images to imply a sense of awe and worship—but in such a way that the commentary is clear: that mass media can play a role in forming whom we see as icons.
Organisers Website

To keep up-to-date with all events, download "The Kilkenny App"

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play