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Culture

Art and the Beautiful Game

Outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and German soccer's glitterati were on hand in Berlin to open a major exhibit on the "beautiful game."

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Beckenbauer, right, and Schröder, look at Andy Warhol's painting

It's been said that true art happens on the soccer pitch, and no where else.

But with Germany getting ready to host the World Cup next June, organizers have decided to let painters, video artists and sculptors offer their take on the beautiful game.

The result is "Rundlederwelten," or "round leather worlds," a 10-week long installation and exhibition at Berlin's Martin Gropius Bau museum. The brainchild of Documenta legend Harald Szeemann, with support from the World Cup cultural program, the exhibit almost didn't get off the ground following Szeemann's sudden death earlier this year.

200 works in just six months

Organizers called in curator Dorothea Strauss at the last minute. In six months, she had collected 200 works, ranging from video installations to paintings and drawings by Martin Kippenberger and Andy Warhol. The exhibit's purpose is to reveal the game's many undercurrents using the diverse methods the art world has to offer.

Ausstellung Rundlederwelten in Berlin

A ball of bread dough in front of photos of the 1974 German team

Bombay artist Maria Marshall filmed a boy kicking a ball in the midday sun against Mediterranean white wall. She digitally removed the ball so that viewers only see the boy kicking the shadow of a ball.

Uruguayan artist Federico Arnaud transformed the anonymous plastic players of a foosball table into a heavenly tableau. Jesus, on the cross, serves as goalkeeper. Maria plays defense.

The Kaiser is everywhere

In all, 74 artists are taking part in the exhibit. German soccer "Kaiser" and World Cup Organizing Committee head Franz Beckenbauer is the face of the event, and contributed a portrait of himself that Andy Warhol drew. The legendary New York artist said in the 1970s that athletes would be the "new stars." His portrait of Beckenbauer is meant to portray the soccer legend as a sports icon and advertising machine.

Ausstellung Rundlederwelten in Berlin

A soccer shirt reading "Andy Warhol" by Stefan Benz

"That the art world is interested in soccer is indisputable," write the exhibit's organizers. "Whether the soccer fan is interested in art can be up for discussion."The discussion is now open.

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