All posts in “Tommie Smith”

Muse/News: SAM director honored, food art pops up, and photos that puzzle

SAM News

Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson opens June 14! A photo by the Seattle Times’ Alan Berner of our First Avenue lightbox appeared in print on May 19. The exhibition was also their visual arts pick for the “hottest events for June” in last Friday’s Weekend Plus section.

“June will launch a series of shows about famous and troubling photographer Edward S. Curtis, his weird way of staging what Native American culture looked like and responses from contemporary artists. The flagship exhibit of this thorny flotilla will happen at Seattle Art Museum — the cultural struggle, using various art-weapons, is still raging.”

In their June issue, Seattle Met Magazine presents Light a Fire 2018, shining a light on the city’s most impressive nonprofits and the people who run them. This year, our SAM Director and CEO Kimerly Rorschach has been awarded Extraordinary Executive Director!

Esquire profiles Middle Fork artist John Grade, who has a new work in an unexpected location: Nordstrom’s new men’s store in Manhattan.

Local News

Did you catch Danai Gurira’s Familiar at the Seattle Rep? Two takes on the play ran in advance of the play’s final weekend from City Arts’ Gemma Wilson and The Stranger’s Charles Mudede.

You will find me NOWHERE NEAR those glass benches. But for those without fear, check out Seattle Magazine’s look at the Olson Kundig revamp of the 56-year-old Space Needle.

Mac Hubbard for Seattle Met on the launch of Sunday Salons, the latest gallery around town to pop-up in an apartment; this one hosts the FoodArt Collection of Jeremy Buben.

“This ability to approach and resonate with our relationship to food is part of Buben’s perpetual interest in this work. And the room for creative license is apparent from the trappings of the apartment: a nude with parts shielded by pancakes and a waffle wedge, neon indicative of diners, a mold of a Cheetos bag housing an air plant.”

Inter/National News

Eileen Kinsella for Artnet on a show about sports and social justice opening in September at the High Museum in Atlanta; it will feature works by artist Glenn Kaino in collaboration with Olympic athlete and activist Tommie Smith.

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone on the shuttering of the much-troubled and once-beloved Interview Magazine.

Ksenya Gurshtein for Hyperallergic on an exhibition of early American photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum that reveals much about the complexities of American life during the 1840s to the 1860s.

“It’s necessary to look to such images as a reminder that evil has long been done in the name of national interests and that photography was as suspect at its inception as it is today, in the age of fake news and truthiness.”

And Finally

This is something I can get behind: Lunch at 11 am. It’s OK to be hungry! Eating is good!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman
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Object of the Week: Study for the Munich Olympic Games Poster

I always loved running—it was something you could do by yourself and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.

— Jesse Owens

One of 29 artists commissioned to design a poster for the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Jacob Lawrence chose to highlight the achievements of Black athletes.[1] In his Study for the Munich Olympic Games Poster, five runners, depicted in Lawrence’s characteristic graphic flatness, recall the figurative style of Greek vase painting—an apropos homage on the occasion of the Games of the XX Olympiad.

The iconic colors of the five interlocking Olympic rings—blue, yellow, black, green, and red—recur throughout the study, from batons and jerseys to shorts and shoes. Framed by the curvature of the track, the runners’ physicality and strength are difficult to ignore. Together, their musculature, movement, and form encapsulate the excitement and competitive finish of the relay—where gold, silver, and bronze are determined by mere tenths of seconds.

Known for his stylistic experimentation and depictions of African American life, Lawrence’s commission also has special importance within the context of the Civil Rights Movement and history of the modern Olympic Games. Created only four years after the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics, and on the occasion of the first Olympics held in Germany since 1936, his representation of Black athletes is especially meaningful.

In the 1968 Olympic Games, American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos respectively won the gold and bronze medals in the 200 meter race.[2] Upon climbing the podium, with the Star Spangled Banner playing behind them, both Smith and Carlos, donning black gloves, raised their right and left fists and bowed their heads—a symbol of protest and strength on an international stage.[3] Though interpreted by many as an explicit demonstration of Black Power, for Smith, it was a human rights salute: “It was a cry for freedom and human rights. We had to be seen because we couldn’t be heard.”[4]

Just 32 years earlier, in 1936, the Summer Olympics were held in Berlin. Though Germany had won the bid in 1931, prior to the rise of the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric of white supremacy and antisemitism was already well established. For Hitler, the Olympics became a stage upon which Germany could prove his theories of racial superiority. It was within this Olympic setting—in which athletes of color and Jewish heritage were openly discriminated against—that Owens won four gold medals, set two world records, and came away the most successful athlete of that year’s games.

For Smith, Carlos, and Owens, these Olympic victories allowed them to transcend—and publically challenge—the political divisions and discrimination taking place in the United States and abroad. Similarly, Lawrence’s Study for the Munich Games Poster, depicting all Black athletes, is an important work that finds its place within this complicated history of the Olympic Games.

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

[1] Other artists included Hans Hartung, Oskar Kokoschka, Pierre Soulages, David Hockney, and Josef Albers, to name just a few.
[2] Tommie Smith won the 200 meter race with a world-record time of 19.83 seconds.
[3] It is believed that Smith raised his right fist, and Carlos his left, to represent Black unity, forming “an arch of unity and power.” BBC News, “1968: Black athletes make silent protest,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/17/newsid_3535000/3535348.stm.
[4] Rick Campbell, “An Olympic moment—from 1968,” Houston Chronicle, August 5, 2008, http://blog.chron.com/40yearsafter/2008/08/an-olympic-moment-from-1968.
Images: Study for the Munich Olympic Games Poster, 1971, Jacob Lawrence, gouache on paper, 35 1/2 x 27 in., PONCHO, 79.31 © Jacob Lawrence. Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) extend gloved hands skyward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner in Mexico City on October 16, 1968. Jesse Owens running at 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

 

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