26 February 2018 OOF is a new magazine which explores the relationship between art and football. The diverse set of artists and artworks featured in the magazine peel back the layers of meaning in this obsessive sport and help us make sense of something bigger and more ungraspable in the process. Football and art have been intertwined for centuries, and OOF is just going to try to unravel that a little bit. OOF is available from selected bookshops and museums as well as from www.oofmagazine.com.
Marcin Dudek spent his youth as a senior member of KS Cracovia’s top hooligan firm, committing and being the victim of unspeakable acts of violence. He escaped the brutality and poverty of Krakow by going to art school in Austria, now his art attempts to make sense mob mentalities, of belonging to a community, and of the human capacity for violence.
A big part of Dudek’s practice involves performance pieces, often involving bright orange smoke or paint. The colour represents the inside of a bomber jacket – Cracovia hooligans would turn their jackets inside out to signal they were ready to fight.
Gerald Cains had a dream of thousands of people queuing to enter Fratton Park on a dreary day in the 1950s. That dream inspired this solemn, grim painting - and was entered into an FA-sanctioned football art competition in 1953. Post-war angst and depression permeate the crowd. It’s a football painting with no football, and a hell of a lot of miser
Rose Wylie, 'Yellow Strip', 2006
Two pictures in Rose Wylie’s major Serpentine Gallery show in 2017 capture her fascination with football, this is one of them, featuring Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Thierry Henry, Jens Lehmann and Ronaldinho. She observes the game as an outsider, finding nuances in players like Wayne Rooney because ‘he had an interesting shape, because his legs are not paradigm football legs’.
Contemporary British artist Leo Fitzmaurice has been twisting, snipping and folding cigarette packets into miniature football kits since 1996. They become symbols of advertising and capitalism in the face of passion, and feel like a bit of an indictment of the shadier aspects of football in the process.
Each mini-shirt carries with it plenty of accidental symbolism – Goal cigarettes being the most obvious – and every brand somehow ends up feeling worryingly appropriate.
When Zvonimir Boban leapt to the defence his team’s supporters in 1990 by kicking some riot policemen, he didn’t just start a riot, he kicked off a war that would precipitate the downfall of Yugoslavia. A mural now stands a few blocks away from the stadium where it happened, a piece of folk art that ages and mutates with the passing of time.
Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili is a Manchester United fan, but still has a place in his heart for Mario Balotelli. The mischievous Italian forward has become an obsession for the artist, appearing in his National Gallery tapestry in 2017 and in loads of other drawings and paintings.
Chris Ofili, ‘Barwuah 1’, 2014
Balotelli is depicted as a bartender, serving up entertainment for us all to consume. He's a used figure, both celebrated and mocked, and acts as a symbol of the modern African-European.
American net artist Petra Cortright was in the USA’s women’s Olympic Development team and was forced to choose between football and art at university - she chose the latter, but never lost her love for the former, creating a series of heavily effected football performance videos throughout the early part of her career.
Other video works by Cortright are less effected and become these strikingly intimate insights into how one person engages with a camera, the internet and the sport she loves.