Los Angeles County Museum of Art displays the Beautiful Game on Canvas

Created on Feb. 08, 2014 10:27 PM EST

The game of soccer leaves many spectators awestruck when carefully observed. A simple game that requires only a leather ball and two sets of nets can captivate an entire population of people, controlling their emotions to varying degrees depending on the situation. Through the game of soccer, mere athletes became ambassadors, communicating with foreigners not with their tongues but with their feet. And as this game globalized and brought different cultures together, participants used the game to express or oppose critical issues such as politics and racism.

The list goes on about how the game of football holds great value to this world and words cannot capture the complete value of this sport. Notable writer Albert Camus says it best. “After many years in which the world has afforded me many experiences, what I know about morality and obligations, I owe to football.” In other words, soccer serves as a great teacher about life.

In light of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) opened up a new exhibit, Futbol: The Beautiful Game, on February 2, a collection of artworks by 30 artists around the world that examines the significance of soccer in different societies.

After being greeted by Nelson Leirner’s sculpture “Maracana,”a mini-display of a stadium filled with various pop culture and religious paraphernalias such as Red Power Ranger action figures and Buddha figurines (A symbolic gesture to show how football unites people of different cultures and religious backgrounds), guests will stumble upon an unsettling sculpture by Satch Hoyt, “Kick That.” The figure looks like a shining trophy from the distance, but actually features three bananas holding a black soccer ball covered in jewels and silver plates with the Euro sign engraved on it. The sculpture tries to convey the racial abuse of African players and how they enter Europe with the promise of a lavish contract, only to be met with racial taunts.

Soccer fans can also check out the 91 minute documentary by Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon,  Zidane: A 21st Century Artist, which captures the former Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane at work in a 2005 match against Villareal. Fans will be captivated by Zidane’s ability to not only control his emotions throughout the game, but control the game itself even when he doesn’t have the ball, proving that he was the greatest artist to grace the pitch.

The ugliness of soccer is also on display, as Paul Pfeiffer compiled videos of athletes diving and exaggerating fouls and removed both the ball and surrounding players to bring focus to the play acting that plagues the game.

With a touch of bright colors and attention to details to bring a familiar face to life, Andy Warhol captured a neat portrait of Pele with a Spalding soccer ball by his head to sensationalize the first soccer player who popularized the game in the United States.  

For comedy, fans can crowd around a small television to watch Miguel Calderon’s “Mexico vs Brazil 2004,” which premiered at a local bar in Brazil. Calderon pulled one of the greatest soccer pranks of the ages by editing bits and clips of past Mexico and Brazilian soccer games to make viewers at the pub believe that their beloved Brazil lost to El Tricolor 17-0!

Guests can also check out other artworks such as a painting of Manchester United legend George Best and a realistic portrait of Samuel Eto’o at the museum. This exhibit provides a great opportunity for football fans and art enthusiasts to see the world’s game in different perspectives and learn about the impact it has made on different societies. It is definitely an eye-opener for the critical thinkers.

General Admission is free for LACMA members and children under 18 years of age, $10 for students, $12 for groups of 10 or more, and $15 for other guests. 
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