Sunday, October 21, 2007

Artball Napkins

About a dozen years ago, after a long unpleasant day at work, I repaired with my colleague Ron Leax to a neighborhood bar to unwind. As it happened, The Terminator was on the tube, which seemed just right somehow, and we alternated our attention between Ahhnuld and a spontaneously generated parlor game which required the assembly of a baseball team with figures from art history. The whole process unwound over several hours, and it was hilariously satisfying. I saved the napkins and stuck them in a file marked Artball. My foray into the informal realm of web-based publishing has provided just the reason (and the format) to dig them out.

[As an aside, analogic thinking provides one of the most satisfying aspects of teaching in a studio model, because one is constantly faced with new material that must be unpacked and retranslated into a digestible form for the student. It's a blast. It's also a valuable form of knowledge. You can know something by analogy that you might not get another way.]

The analogy required in this case involves grasping the requirements of a position--e.g., a first baseman or a closer--and applying it to a knowledge base in an unrelated field: a roster of artists across time and place. Of the lineups Ron and I assembled, I am especially fond of several line up choices:

Henry Moore as a first baseman. Who is he, if not the Boog Powell of modernist sculpture? Steady, solid average, lots of power, not so versatile. Slow.

Bernini in center. Sculptor, architect, master of dramatic handling and showmanship, a bit of a hot dog, fleet of foot. Fabulous choice.

Velasquez at short and Raphael at second. Excellent keystone combination: athleticism, brains, finesse.

Duchamp as a closer: who knows what he'll throw?

Back soon with a Fall Classic Artball contest.

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