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When Art History and Sports History Collides

While flipping channels this past weekend, I stopped on a program on the  Indianapolis PBS affiliate WFYI called “From Naptown to Super City.” The documentary outlines Indianapolis’s progress from a city with a dying (if not, dead) downtown to the vibrant Super Bowl host city that it is this week. It’s a great program full of fascinating interviews, anecdotes, and images of this city. If you haven’t had a chance to see it and you live in Indy, the program will re-air on Saturday at 6 p.m.

One image from the documentary, in particular, caught my attention. It was of the National Sports Festival that was hosted in Indianapolis in 1982. I can’t find a copy of the image anywhere online so I’ll try to describe it to you (by the way, I have a VERY unreliable memory, so I might be remembering the details wrong…). Essentially, the image is of a stadium with a track, the stands are filled with fans and the infield is filled with athletes. In the center of the image stands 1, 2, and 3 from Robert Indiana’s Numbers. After doing a little research, (a.k.a. reading Richard McCoy’s blog from April 5), I discovered that they were used as backdrops to the gold, silver, and bronze medal platforms for the games.

The more I’ve thought about the image, the more I appreciate the connection to the current configuration of Numbers. We are currently displaying 4 & 6 in the Museum’s Welcome Center. 1, 2, 3, 4, & 6 now have a place in art history and sports history. Fingers crossed that 5, 7, 8, & 9 will have their chance one day, as well.

Robert Indiana, "Numbers," 1980-1983. Gift of Melvin Simon and Associates; 1988.241. © Morgan Art Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Indianapolis stands at the crossroads of the U.S., but now more than ever, it also stands at the crossroads of sports and art. The balance of the aesthetic and the athletic makes Indianapolis a vibrant host for the Super Bowl, but an even better home for the 1.7 million people that live in our Metro area.

Robert Indiana’s Numbers are just one of the many examples of art and sports intersecting in the Circle City this week. For a full list of all the fun cultural events organized in celebration of the Super Bowl, click here.

Filed under: Art, Local

One Response to “When Art History and Sports History Collides”

  • avatar

    Indianapolis artist, John Moore was in 5th grade @ this time. I remember that he won an art contest, and his designs of figures in action ( running, etc..)were painted on several sports complex walls.

    Has anyone heard about John Moore? I found an Indy Black Expo article on him and his art, dated back around 01.

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