Sports Writers become Art Critics

Last post I mentioned that the art critics at the Guardian newspaper were reporting sports stories for the day. Now it’s the sports writers reporting on the arts.

Rugby Union columnist Thomas Castaign├Ęde does a report on Puccini’s Tosca at the Royal Opera House, tennis correspondent Steve Bierley talks about the sculpture of Louise Bourgeois at the Pompidou Centre, sports writer William Fotheringham goes to see the electropop group Metronomy at Esquires in Bedford, golf correspondent Lawrence Donegan does classical music with Yefim Bronfman and the San Francisco Symphony performing Brahms at the Louise M Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and football writer Kevin McCarra does a story on contemporary dance with Tero Saarinen’s Next of Kin at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

I think the tennis writer (Steve Bierley) did a better job reporting on the sculpture of Louise Bourgeois than the art critic (Jonathon Jones) did on reporting the football..

“Watch sport and you think about sport. Observe art and you discover yourself. Spirals, nests, lairs, refuges. Bourgeois leads you to dark places you are not sure you want to revisit. Sport is the toyshop; Bourgeois proffers no hint of a welcome. Even the “je t’aime” embroidered on the pillow in one of her claustrophobic rooms seemed like a threat. Rooms inside cages; bones inside glass spheres.” Steve Bierley – Guardian Newspaper

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. It’s quite entertaining when someone gets out of his/her own niche and writes about something else. Although the technical details can be a little off, the resulting text will usually take a new glance on the object.

  2. Yeah, it can be interesting listening to people talk about art that don’t know much about it. Their head isnt filled with art history books so their words can be more honest, more themselves, and more refreshing. Theyre not tempted to regurgitate something that an history book told them and theyre not going to name drop as they don’t know any names.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Warhol is in the lead, with Picasso coming up strong, and Gainsborough just about out of it…AND THERE’S KANDINSKY, KANDINSKY! Look at him rounding the third turn and…OH! Hirst has stopped and is doing his business directly on the track.

  4. You made me laugh Anon!

  5. Art and sport have gone forever since the ancient Hellenes and the glorification of their Olympiads. reflects a healthy society, not overly inward, but participating in the world outwardly, with gusto. Dancers also, like with Degas, and he painted horse racing. de Stael painted futbolers, one of the Futurists did Dynamisim of a Futbol player. I know of many others, but cant recal their names just now. Picasso had bullfights. Delaunay also had futbolers. Cant think of any decent baseball or football. Leroy Neiman does quite classify. I have done boxing and basketball, as the only real requirement of any subject is to know it intimately, and so discover truth in it. Be it a mountain, still life, nude or abstraction. Or sport. Just dont get caught up in the particular. No more than Picasso did with Nazi bombers in Guernica. The individual is transitory, and glorifcation pandering.

    These writers, however, read like they WANTED to be art writers, or want to be on that same “level” Though I find it actualy below sports writers, most self congratulatory nonsesne, hyping ones own “deep” understanding, rather than actual reporting.

  6. Whilst anyone is entitled to write about art and this can add another perspective if you are not tied down to art historical theory, I really think placing artwork within an art historical context has value.

    I don’t think people should have to quote a text to write about an artwork or know the exact date it was made etc. But I do think there is a place for art/ cultural theory.

    A good art historian uses a text to back up a point of view they already hold or to provide an alternative way of seeing an artwork.

    A text as you say should not be a substitute for your own thoughts or opinions and it’s true that art critics usually just want a good headline…but..

    Without art history many people would not have a way in to art and that would leave us blind to our own cultural practices.

  7. Helly, I was thinking about how I would feel reading a lot of art reviews or reports if I had never opened a book on art history. I would be lost a lot of the time.

    What I’m really saying is that we should make arts writing dumber, but that’s not what I want either. I like how the links of art history come together to support an idea or review, I just don’t like too much waffle.

    I think some writers try to compete with the artist or artwork rather than trying to compliment it in some way. If the writing makes me think more about the writing than the artwork, it hasnt done its job properly.


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