A few months ago, Glasstire published a brief reminder mentioning the impending Formula One racing event here in Austin. Slated for November, it is supposed to be one of the largest sports events in town, bringing in some 300,000 people from all over the world (for some perspective, SXSW 2011 brought 200,000 people and ACL a measly 65,000 people). Almost as a challenge, or maybe entirely and intentionally as a challenge, Bill Davenport notes: “Unlike Cowboys Stadium, Formula One has not as yet announced an ambitious contemporary art program to accompany the event.”
What would a Formula One art program look like anyway? How and when do sports and art come together?
Davenport presents a little inspiration—the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. Built in 2000, Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones seems to have spared little expense creating “the largest NFL venue ever built” (because we are, after all, in Texas). Sifting through the press releases and brochures, phrases like “the largest in the world” and “the only of its kind” seem to apply to every architectural innovation that fit in 73 acres.
Besides the building itself, a large and impressive art collection is displayed inside. While waiting in line for beer and a hot dog, the football fan is faced with massive sculptural installations and canvases reaching 38 feet tall embodying their “bigger isn’t always better. But sometimes it is” catchphrase. The art was all commissioned for the stadium with some vague and some more apparent football references.
For Formula One, it’s less about how big it is than how fast it is. For that, we can turn to art history textbook staple, the Futurists. Obsessed with modernity and technology, the Futurists produced some pretty solid inspiration for Formula One art (they were making art around 1912, the first Formula One track in Italy was built in 1922, so not too far off). Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space invokes the motion and speed of someone standing a little too close to the track. For a more literal take, there was also this radical installation at the Mercedes-Benz World Exhibition in England—a disassembled F1 car, suspended from the ceiling with wire.
Fortunately for us, though, we don’t have to go too far out of town to find some potential F1 art candidates. Immediately coming to mind, Tom Druecker’s prints (recently featured in our Red Dot show) of what seem just an aesthetically pleasing shape are actually F1 racing circuits around the world–visual recreations of these circuits beautifully rendered into an almost abstract space.
On the slightly less understated side, Bale Creek Allen’s bronze, gold and silver-plated tire treads, available also as neck décor, should get some serious attention. Glitzy but rough and incredible up close and in person, these treads could prove as fabulous installation work and perhaps a few centerpieces, with the necklaces providing the take-home accessory of the event.
Just a few weeks away doesn’t give them much time, of course. And we’ll all be busy enough with East Side Studio Tours that weekend anyway.