It's not every day that art lovers can spot a Norman Rockwell portrait hanging alongside an Andy Warhol canvas.
Of course, an entire exhibit dedicated to paintings, photographs, cartoons and antiquities related to the preferred sport of businessmen, retirees and Scotsmen isn't exactly par for the course, either.
But that's exactly what the special exhibition “The Art of Golf” is offering at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
With the Summer Olympics opening next week in London and turning even non-athletes into sports fans, museum staffers hope the new show attracts both golf lovers who might not otherwise visit the third-floor galleries and art patrons who will be pleasantly surprised at the diversity, scope and span of the touring exhibit.
“The opening of ‘The Art of Golf' days before the Summer Olympics, though fortuitous, is exceptional timing. Both highlight the very best of the sports they represent, and while golf isn't quite as ancient as the Games, it still boasts a significant history of over 400 years, and that is depicted beautifully in the more than 90 works of art in the exhibit,” said Nicole Emmons, the museum's publications coordinator.
“This isn't just a show for your avid golfer; it has a broad appeal that reaches history buffs, sports fans, and just about anyone interested in seeing works by some of the biggest names in art.”
Organized by the High Museum of Art and the National Galleries of Scotland, “The Art of Golf” is billed as the first exhibit devoted to the game by a major American art museum. Oklahoma City is only its second stop, following its debut at the High Museum in Atlanta, the hometown of golf great Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones Jr.
“The Art of Golf” examines the game's origins, its beginnings in Scotland and its growth in America during the 20th century. The exhibit includes works that span the sport's long history, from 17th century Dutch landscape paintings depicting “kolf,” a cousin of the game, to brilliantly colored aerial photographs by Patricia and Angus Macdonald that feature today's well-known Scottish golf courses and explore the effects of human activity on the terrain.
“Just from the purely visual level, this is a beautiful 17th-century Dutch painting; it's very typical of what you would expect from a painting of this time. It really captures the essence of a good genre scene, a scene of everyday life, which the Dutch were so known for,” said Alison Amick, the Oklahoma City museum's curator of collections, indicating Hendrick Avercamp's 1630 oil painting “Winter Landscape.”