How sports venues have inspired artists | Arts | DW | 19.08.2016
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Arts

How sports venues have inspired artists

Stadiums, fields and swimming pools have often served as muses for filmmakers, painters and writers. Some have left the focus on the sport, while others have turned the venues into backdrops for comedies or psychodramas.

Culture and sport might sound like an oxymoron. But when these two seemingly divergent fields cross, the results can be astonishing.

Photographers are inspired by the art of movement, while painters still the chaos on a soccer pitch.

Olympic Stadium Munich, Copyright; picture-alliance/dpa

Munich's Olympic Stadium was designed by Frei Otto

Filmmakers set their movies in sports venues - even if the film isn't at all athletic, such as in the 1958 US drama "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

In the film based on the play by Tennessee Williams, the former football player Brick Pollitt drowns himself with whiskey to get over his friend's death, tries to run the hurdles while drunk and breaks his leg.

The stadium - lit by a single spotlight at night - reinforces the athlete's feeling of failure in the loneliest moment of his life.

Architecture for sport

As far as stadiums go, renowned architects have made names for themselves with the structures. One famous example is the filigree roof design of the Munich Olympic Stadium, which was designed by star architect Frei Otto who passed away in March 2015.

All over the world, stadiums don't just house major sporting events but often serve as venues for huge concerts and other artistic performances.

Sports stories on paper and on screen

Book cover, Peter Handke's 'Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter'

Peter Handke's novel is a classic among soccer books

Countless authors have also turned to sports to find their inspiration, from Peter Handkes "Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter" ("The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty") to Alan Sillitoe's "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner."

Then there was Rita Mae Brown, who wrote tennis novels that spoke openly about female homosexuality and the behind-the-scenes intrigues of the tennis world.

Many books on sports have been adapted for the big screen, and Hollywood has hardly left a single sport untouched. There are the typical college football flicks or surfer films like "Chasing Mavericks." In "Stick It," gymnasts shine despite a stingy jury, and in "Chariots of Fire," two young men work hard to become the best track athletes on their team.

Meanwhile, in "Raging Bull" and "Rocky," Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone shone in the most famous boxing films of all time, while swimmer Esther Williams became a Hollywood star in the 1950s with her aqua-musicals.

Click through the gallery above for a look at how sports have inspired the arts across the board.

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