Basil Sellers Art Prize

Daniel Crooks has won the first biennial Basil Sellers Art Prize in Australia, pocketing $100,000 for his Study for ‘Static no. 11 (man running)’ work. The work is a two-channel HD digital video with sound.

The subject that artists have to play with to enter the art prize is sport. I always thought sport and art went together about as happily as oil and water.

basil sellers prize winner daniel crooks

Brett Whiteley’s “The Cricket Match” is one of the few sporting pictures that I would hang my wall. There’s also George Bellows boxing paintings and Edgar Degas horse racing paintings. I can’t think of any others at the moment.

Here’s what the organizers of the art/sports prizes hopes to achieve.. “It is hoped this prize will support the continuing development of the winning artist’s work, encourage a wider discussion and experience, and liberate sport and art from their opposing corners in the cultural landscape.”

The 16 shortlisted artists are James Angus, Jon Cattapan, Daniel Crooks, Kate Daw and Stewart Russell, Ivan Durrant, Shaun Gladwell, Mark Hilton, David Jolly, Josie Kunoth Petyarre and Dinni Kunoth Kemarre, Richard Lewer, Selina Ou, Scott Redford, Elvis Richardson and Anne Zahalka. See their entries here.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Sports and art?
    With the Summer Olympics coming up, I was just thinking about this connection the other day. Of course ancient Greek sculpture is an obvious source. Not so bad either.

  2. Ah, yes of course, Greek sculpture. The discuss thrower would look great in my living room. It might get in the way of the television but it’s something I could put up

  3. says:

    There are many in early modernism, some abstrations like Boccionis Dynamism of a Futbol Player at MoMA. Delauney also, Nicholas de Stael did Parc du Princes. Picasso did bull fights, which is a sport no matter how you feel about death in the afternoon. Artists have more traditionaly used battle scenes to show the human body at work, they can use the male figure in contorted ways to produce a passionate response better with large groups scenes, but the solitary athlete is a legitimate subject matter,

    I have used it four times, biker, football, basketball, and my avatar, Mike Tyson sitting in the corner ready to come out and eat someones baby, It should be used more, have been thinking about ultimate fighting, you can do anything wiht bodies in that “sport”. Though it has to develop, I see no defense in it, all total overwhelming in attack.
    But this again shows lack of vitality in contemporary art, I have never seen a more disinterested and boring group of athletes in my life. This coming as one who has coached many who are now playing college basketball and football. And know pro athletes. Sport is far more interesting than almost any recent art, with a handful of exceptions. The drama is pure, real, drug use aside, and exhil;irating. And why it is so popular compared to art.

    Rugby players would be an excellent subject, but all motifs must be known and understood intimately by the artist to both use it and demonstrate the inherit passion in any subject matter. Artist are no long strong, seem to be prejudiced against us jocks. But know other athletes who love art, just bored of it. We are not the bucket heads artists want to think of us, quite the contrary ahve far more passion, cant get inot a ring singlehandedly and face pain without it.

    Which again leads me to the lack of passion in contemporary art. something art has always had, and is essential. Even the winner here talked about how “intriguing” it is. Again, art has become a game, far more than sport, where your body is on the line evertime you take the field. This is a far more potential for both tension and form and energy than the self expresive exhibtionism of the last four decades of self absorbtion.
    We do have the statue before the LA Colisem of a male and female athlete taken from a volleyballa dn waterpolo plyer by Serra made for the 84 Olympics, not bad.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Paul Pfieffer routinely uses sports as subject in his work. In fact, he also won a $100,000 Bucksbaum prize from the Whitney for his work in the 00′ Biennial (all sports-related video loops).

    Sarah Morris is doing a huge project on the upcoming Olympics, and has already produced several “ring” paintings in reference to the games.

    And lets not forget Matthew Barney’s displaced frat-boy feats…

  5. Donald Frazell says:

    Hey Dion, I created a new sport. Its called Bait the Brits. Messing with them on JJs blogs at the Guardian. they are staying up til 130am hollering at me, while I leave for dinner. Hilarious. Got a lilliputian debate going on now, but may be deleted, as last nights rather raucous tete a tete was. Someone used a naughty word. Wonder if your Porno queen could use it. hmmmmmm.

    One of the drawings I sent you was Ms Tanya, one as close to porno as I ever got. Not sure what I can do with it, painting? hmmm, maybe? Will do the portrait of George Braque, always loved that photo, finally drew it out, would be interesting, but most drawings dont lend themselve to painting, draughtsmanship is something completely different, but think that one might be good.
    Glad you folks arent as uptight as the Brits, guess you do have some things more in common with us. Gotta leave those cracks about their food and teeth alone though, just plain tacky.

  6. Donald Frazell says:

    Alright, off home for dinner. Just remembered, Rousseau did one of rugby players, Roualt did a boxer, Picasso did acrobats, does taht count? And Michelangelo did his Ignudi on the sistine ceiling that certainly could have been athletes bodies. Art during times of vigor often use athletics, the vitality of tehe bodies emboding the energy of the times. We have been in the opposite, this current contest an example.
    FINALLY had two guys come into life drawing with some muscle. I know tons of athletes, some bigtime footballand basketball players, but you think the are gonna pose? I dont think so. Not going to draw my ssons, that would be weird, and neither have the patience to stay still long enough anyway.

  7. You really do know how to get people going Donald. A few of the comments that were there earlier have been deleted. It was much more hostile when I looked a few hours ago.

    I try not to take myself or anyone else too seriously. Some people seem to look for things to be offended by.. and theyre not people that I can spend very much time with. I’m too tempted to continually offend them until they lighten up or attack me. It’s tiring being around serious people.

    Also, I used to love the people with different bodies at life drawing (havent been for a few years now.) I remember one girl was well rounded and used to hate my drawings as I would exaggerate her curves. She always took it so personally, but what could I do! Another I remember was a guy that looked like a bodybuilder and he would do yoga poses. He was interesting to draw. The last time I saw him posing in class he was thinking bad thoughts as he got hard during a long pose. It was summer and there was some pretty girls in the direction he was looking, so I guess he let his mind wander. The drawings of that pose created some interesting discussion. I used to love drawing old people too.. especially those that were comfortable in their skin.

  8. Donald Frazell says:

    Yeah, goes both ways. One woman who draw ther, actually pretty attractive, went up to the best built male model we had and spoke to him for about five minutes with his, er, manhood, about a foot from her face while standing on the platform. Hilarious. Neveer talked to another model before or since.

    Also, while at the Getty Villa two weeks ago, was looking at the ceremonial victor urns winners of theh Athenian games woudl receive, huge and filled with olive oil. One side showing the sport of the victor, chariot racing, running, wrestling, boxing whatever. The reverse a huge portrait of Athena, victorious, clad in armour, my wife loved it. She loves intelligent women who kick ass, as befits a Tae Bo goddess.

    Plenty of athlets and warriors depicted in the ancient world. What is more expreessive than the human body? And can be used decoratively, and sensually. We do make babies after all, and how they are created is often depicted, but sex having to do more with fertility rituals than self gratification.

  9. Donald Frazell says:

    My bad, the sculptures before the LA Coliseum were by Robert Graham, pretty nice ones too. Also did the monument to Duke Ellington in northern Central Park I remember.

    Just remembered after seeing at the Guardian Serras silliness. Leanign walls of rusting iron, with no real good color or pattersn on them, though did see one installation where the soft red of the rust filled the white room nicely. Still and absurd waste of time, money, energy, and materials on slabs of leaning Iron. More decadence. Artistes need to go get their hands dirty with more than colored mud, and sweat for a change, work in lumberyards and constructions sites and such. Then this stuff will look like it is, sift ignorant children wanting to appear tough and hard, ike the industrial age they have missed being in overaged daycare centers all their lives. Give me a break.

  10. I once worked in a steel yard Doanld, and saw some of the most beautiful pieces of metal. Everyday was a hunt for more ideas and materials. It was hard physical work, but I always enjoyed it as I always loved looking for new things to do with the steel someday.

    I thought I would eventually become a steel sculptor, but then I went to university and became an ideas

    Someday maybe.. pity I can’t weld though.

  11. Donald Frazell says:

    Yeah, I worked in a lumberyard, among many other things, and live near the port of Long beach/Los Angeles, the biggest in the world. lots of junkyards and recycling centers. If you look at my photos from when I was doing them over 25 years ago, you can see many of steel and junk, and natures destructive force also. Beautiful, but its the textures, structure, and light, and tones they produce that creates art, not bigass slabs of steel put in places they dont belong.

    Thats silly. Art is all around, and can be appreciated, you jsut cant recreate some things. But as artists create equivalents, with interactions and relationships of forms, color, and line. Serras stuff has none of that, just stuff in the way. Its not like its Calders or Picassos large works. Imagine the amount of time and energy and money put into making it, its not like he actualy did more than design anything, and what it could have been used for. Absurd..

  12. Anonymous says:

    Walt Kuhn (polo)
    Duchamp (chess)
    Gursky (football)
    Eakins (rowing)
    Manet (croquet),
    Picasso (bullfighting)
    Stubbs (horse racing)

    Exekias (chess
    Peter Breughel the Elder (the children’s games in Vienna)
    Leonardo (drawings of tournaments)

    I’ve ruled hunting out regretfully or I’d have suggested the masters associated with the Lascaux paintings.

  13. The French government site has a nice little section on the Lascaux cave paintings. Do the “virtual visit” and it shows each section of the cave.

    Theyre almost too good to be true. The Australian Aboriginal cave paintings I have seen are almost like cutout impressions of a man or animal, but the Lascaux paintings are very fluid and even capture movement.

  14. Donald Frazell says:

    Ches isnt a sport, its a game. And why Duchamp and his followers are to be ruled out as artist. They are not physical, but all mental. Games, not mano a mano competition, os no passion. Justr trying to be clever, but as true intellgence is teh ability to process information throough all parts of our humanity, Mind, body, and soul, he belongs in the cold and rather twisted class with courbosier adn other pseudo intellectuals. Not a sporting bone in his body.

    USA!USA!USA! Sorry we jsut put a beat down in basketball on them Hellenes, Now THATS a sport. Usually dont go jsut for America, we can be jsut a big a Aholes as anyone else(Kobe), but in ball, thats my game baby. Already choking in boxing and soccer(is that a sport?)

  15. Yeah, I was wondering where the sport is in chess. I forgot to bring it up.

    Marcel Duchamp could paint if he wanted to.. just look at his Nude Descending a Staircase.. it’s a wonderful painting. I guess he was more interested in playing around with ideas though.

    I dont think Europe and South America would appreciate the soccer remark Donald. In parts of Europe “football” is almost a religion. I tried to follow soccer/football when I was in Turkey, but I only really enjoyed the game when there was also beer, nuts, and friends.

  16. Donald Frazell says:

    Yeah, we have baseball here for that, only go in groups and have fun. So dont need soccer, both slow and boooring. Basketball is beautiful, I even love good ice hockey, great at playoff time, nothing more intense, faster or harder hitting. You got Rugby for that. And that has often been a subject for painters. A mans game.

    Loved Duchamps Nude, one or two other things, but got seducted by the mental game, sat around being clever, instead of engaging in life. He had talent, but many do who never do anyting good.

    Picasso threw all his talent away and started from scratch after demoiselles, something all artists need to do again. Toss all the crap bouncing around in our heads, its BS by wannabes, follow only those who have created, not those who pontificate about it, especialy me.


  1. [...] anonymous comment mentioned the Lascaux cave paintings on an earlier post about a sports art prize, so I thought I would see if there’s any good websites on them. I found one on the French [...]

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