A multimedia feast of sculpture, painting, and video, the outstanding exhibition Fútbol: The Beautiful Game was—forgive me—far more effusive and stimulating than any 90-minute football match has ever been to my eyes.

Staged at LACMA and curated by Franklin Sirmans, the show, like a good heated match, was a rioutous circus of colour and sound, a raucous visual journey around the world. More than 30 artists from the U.S., U.K., Guatemala, Spain and Ghana showed the truly universal appeal of the game, and the common human experience of broader issues such as nationalism, loyalty and global identity.


 Guatemalan artist Dario Escobar’s Obverse & Reverse XIV, suspended from the ceiling

I particularly enjoyed the sculpture—mounted on the floor, hanging overhead—found throughout the show. Dario Escobar’s latex and leather sculpture strung soccer balls cloud-like from the ceiling, while Brazilian artist Nelson Leirner created an stadium crowd from toy soldiers, Incredible Hulks, mini buddhas and more, all protected by the outstretched arms of plastic Jesus figures.

Nelson Lernier Maracanã

 Nelson Lernier’s sculpture Maracanã

Antoni Muntadas’ video Celebracions spliced together footage of players in post-goal ecstasy, creating a compelling work that closely examined the intimacies and complexities of teammates’ relationships.

There was plenty of excellent painting as well, from Kehinde Wiley to Wendy White and Warhol’s portrait of famed footballer Pele.

Staged to coincide with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the exhibition is on until July 20, which means the thrill of this show will last even longer than the games themselves.


 Antoni Muntadas’ video, Celebracions, 2009

Kehinde Wiley, Samuel Eto'o, 2010

 Kehinde Wiley, Samuel Eto’o, 2010, oil on canvas