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Press Office Exhibition

SFMOMA's Get in the Game Features Art + Design Influenced by the Role of Sports in Our Culture

150 Objects Inspired by Athletes and Key Moments in Sports History On View in the Museum’s Largest Exhibition to Date

Released: February 01, 2024 · Download (0 KB PDF)

October 19, 2024−February 18, 2025

Free Community Day: Sunday, October 20, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 1, 2024; Updated July 9, 2024)—Sports have a huge presence and pull in contemporary life: the drive to play, compete and win is everywhere, and the urge to cheer our local team and our favorite athlete is irresistible. Artists and designers are likewise drawn to the drama, heartbreak, joy and risk-taking of athletics, inspiring them to tackle new challenges, take on timely topics and reexamine what sports say about our culture. From October 19, 2024−February 18, 2025, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents Get in the Game, exploring the powerful—and sometimes contentious—place of athletics in our communities.

Covering 15,000 square feet with 150 compelling artworks and design objects, Get in the Game is SFMOMA’s largest exhibition to date. Curated by Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, SFMOMA’s Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design; Seph Rodney, independent curator and writer; and Katy Siegel, SFMOMA’s Research Director, Special Program Initiatives, it showcases paintings, sculptures, photographs, video and interactive installations by some of today’s most important artists, together with design breakthroughs in sports gear, gaming and apparel. Viewers will discover the sense of community found in depictions of pickup basketball games, minor league baseball teams, neighborhood swimming clubs or a lineup of fellow surfers. Audiences will also encounter artists and designers inspired by athletes advancing conversations about gender, race and identity, as well as artworks responding to the remarkable achievements of sports figures such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Colin Kaepernick, Diana Nyad, Venus Williams and Zinedine Zidane. Woven throughout Get in the Game will be stunning works of contemporary art and design, interactive installations and historical videos that reconsider political and cultural issues through the lens of sports, athleticism, competition and play.

“Creating exhibitions that are responsive to the happenings in our daily life and position art in dialogue with subjects of relevance, meaning and interest to a broad community is core to SFMOMA’s vision,” said Christopher Bedford, SFMOMA’s Helen and Charles Schwab Director. “Get in the Game perfectly encapsulates this drive, exploring the confluence of culture and sports and the many ways in which they influence each other. The exhibition creates space for dynamic conversations about identity, physicality, passion, ambition, resilience and so much more. We welcome the public to experience this unique opportunity to look anew at the inspiring ways that sports, art, design and culture intersect.”

 

ART INFLUENCED BY SPORTS

Through sports, artists can tell stories of the highs and lows of human experience: adrenaline-fueled passions and agonizing defeats, as well as our relationship with traditions and record-breaking achievements. Highlights of Get in the Game include moving artworks by artist/athletes Matthew Barney, Rosalyn Drexler, Reggie Burrows Hodges, Savanah Leaf, Mario Ayala, Shaun Leonardo and Lucy McRae, who have been influenced by their experiences in sports such as football, volleyball, skateboarding, wrestling, tennis and track. Also among the more than 70 artists featured in the exhibition are Emma Amos, Ernie Barnes, Kevin Beasley, Karla Diaz, Derek Fordjour, Jeffrey Gibson, Michael Jang, Ivan Salcido, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, Catherine Opie, Paul Pfeiffer, Cheryl Pope, Robert Pruitt, Ben Sakoguchi, William Scott, Joan Semmel, Gary Simmons, Tabitha Soren and Hank Willis Thomas.

Upending our expectations of both museums and games, viewers will be able to play interactive artworks by contemporary artists: Maurizio Cattelan’s 22-person foosball table, Stadium (1991), and Gabriel Orozco’s Ping Pond Table (1998), a four-way ping-pong table with a square pool in place of a net.

 

CUTTING-EDGE DESIGN OF SPORTS GEAR AND FASHION

Get in the Game features dozens of innovative designs for sports gear, gaming and fashion, from Formula One racecar steering wheels to a 2022 ensemble from Virgil Abloh’s final Louis Vuitton collection. Fans can appreciate the artistry and unforgettable design of Michael Johnson’s gold running shows and Nike’s original Air Jordan basketball shoes. Amateur athletes can also follow the awe-inspiring design evolution and technological advances of surfboards, tennis racquets and football helmets.

Reflecting the evolving field of play, the exhibition integrates meaningful designs from recent years, such as the Cheetah Xceed prosthetic running leg, developed by biomedical engineer Van Phillips (himself an amputee), and the Refugee Nation Flag, designed by artist Yara Said, a Syrian refugee now based in Amsterdam.

 

EXHIBITION DESIGN + AUDIENCE EXPERIENCE

Exhibition design by fuseproject, the leading design and innovation firm led by Yves Béhar, bring the visual and emotional exuberance of sports into the museum context and immerse visitors in the thrill of a sporting event. Get in the Game takes over the museum’s entire Floor 7, and fuseproject’s design evokes the feeling of entering a stadium and encourages visitors to discover their own path through the exhibition’s wide range of offerings.

The presentation is organized around five key themes that invite audiences to look at the intersection of visual art, sports and design from multiple perspectives: Mind and Body, Winning and Losing, A Fan’s Life, Breaking Records and Rules and Field of Play. Throughout the exhibition, video and photography of major events in sports history will ground the artworks in a larger context and offer new insights into the role of sports in social change.

To reflect the remarkable range of athletic interests and the ever-changing definition of sports, the exhibition features art and design objects connected to team events, such as soccer, basketball, football and baseball; individual competition, including running, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, figure skating, motorsports and boxing; and less conventional, popular sports, such as skateboarding, surfing, martial arts and video gaming.

 

BAY AREA WALLS + RELATED EXHIBITIONS

Get in the Game is complemented by six related presentations inspired by sports in different ways, including three single-gallery exhibitions on Floor 2:

Unity in Skateboarding (August 17, 2024–April 27, 2025), focusing on the history of LGBTQ+, BIPOC and women skateboarders and allies, is guest curated by Jeffrey Cheung and Gabriel Ramirez, artists and founders of Unity, the Oakland-based queer collective that introduces participants to skateboarding and artmaking. When the World Is Watching and Count Me In (both on view August 17, 2024–May 4, 2025) highlight how international competitions—such as the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, the America’s Cup, World Cup and the Gay Games—together with wider participation in sports by Indigenous, Black, disabled and women athletes, mirror important societal conversations globally.

In addition, SFMOMA has commissioned new installations by cartoonist and writer Gene Luen Yang, painter David Huffman and artist and educator Jenifer K. Wofford for the museum’s Bay Area Walls series, which invites local artists to create site-responsive wall projects. Bay Area Walls: Gene Luen Yang (August 31, 2024–June 2025) features a mural inspired by three basketball legends with a tie to the Bay Area: Fran Belibi, Stephen Curry and Jeremy Lin. Bay Area Walls: David Huffman (October 12, 2024–August 2025) presents the first wall-sized work by Huffman, who has long used basketballs to reference his community and personal history, weaving the imagery into complex and gorgeous abstract paintings. Bay Area Walls: Jenifer K. Wofford (October 12, 2024–September 2025), organized by Tanya Zimbardo, assistant curator of media arts, features a painted mural inspired by Filipina American competitive diver Victoria Manalo Draves (19242010), the first Asian American Olympic gold medalist.

 

ORGANIZATION

Get in the Game is organized by SFMOMA and curated by Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, SFMOMA; Seph Rodney, independent curator and writer; and Katy Siegel, Research Director, Special Program Initiatives, SFMOMA.

 

PUBLICATION

The book accompanying Get in the Game takes inspiration from the visual style of graphic novels and is anchored by 45 full-color illustrations by artist and surfer AJ Dungo, including dozens of drawings that capture iconic moments in sports history and activism. The publication also brings together an array of voices on the role of sports in our culture and the intersection of athletics and the arts.

Megan Rapinoe, activist, advocate and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, reflects on the similarities between athletes and artists in the foreword. Athletes, artists and scholars are also featured in nine dialogues, and these include conversations with Patricio Manuel and Meg Onli; Catherine Opie and Diana Nyad; and Alysia Montaño with Jane Gottesman and Evelyn C. White. The book also reprints Natalie Diaz’s poem “Top Ten Reasons Why Indians Are Good at Basketball.”

Essays in the book delve further into a range of perspectives and experiences with sports, from the hyper-local to the global: Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher and Katy Siegel write on the cultural power of sports and art; Seph Rodney on the competitive drive; Jay Caspian Kang on youth sports; Sara Hendren on goalball and the history of adaptive sports; Theresa Runstedtler on race and mental health in sports; Bruce Schoenfeld on the data analysis revolution in baseball; and Frank Andre Guridy on the role of the stadium in American society.

The book is edited by Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Seph Rodney and Katy Siegel and published by SFMOMA in association with Tra Publishing, Miami.

 

EVENTS + PROGRAMS

To kick off the public opening of Get in the Game, SFMOMA presents a Free Community Day on Sunday, October 20, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., offering visitors free admission to the entire museum.

In anticipation of the half-dozen sports-related exhibitions taking place across the museum this fall, on Sunday, September 1, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., SFMOMA invites local artists to submit their fan art for the chance to be featured in the museum’s next presentation in STEPS Coffee on Floor 2, juried by artist David Huffman. The museum seeks original works of art in a variety of mediums that celebrate Bay Area athletes, sports teams and fans. Visitors who submit artwork on this day will also receive free admission to the museum.

Families are invited to join the fun at SFMOMA by creating clues for a Get in the Game-themed museum game during the museum’s Second Sundays programs on October 13 and November 10, from 10:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Visitors are invited to return and play the new game and enjoy sports-themed art making at Free Family Day on December 8, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., when admission to the museum is free for up to four adults accompanying one child, age 18 or younger.

In the spirit of competition, SFMOMA put out an open call for Artcade in spring 2024, inviting artists, designers and creators to propose new interactive games about sports. An esteemed panel of jurors selected three finalists to develop their respective games for visitors to play at SFMOMA: SUPER ULTRA EXTREME RACING by Annalivia Martin-Straw and Tyler Knowlton; Pongalong by Jared Pettitt and Celeste “Clark” Jewett; and Grass Stains by Aaron Freedman, Nina Freeman, Diego Garcia, and Amos Roddy. Artcade can be experienced for free from October 2024–March 2025, in the museum’s Koret Education Center on Floor 2, coinciding with the presentation of Get in the Game.

 

SUPPORT

Lead support for Get in the Game is provided by Bank of America. Presenting support is provided by Dana and Bob Emery. Major support is provided by KHR McNeely Family Fund and Mary Jo and Dick Kovacevich. Significant support is provided by Mary Jane Elmore, Susan Karp and Paul Haahr, Jessica Moment, Nancy and Alan Schatzberg, and Anonymous. Meaningful support is provided by Ethan Beard and Wayee Chu and Maryellen and Frank Herringer.

 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

 

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the United States and a thriving cultural center for the Bay Area. Our remarkable collection of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design and media arts is housed in a LEED Gold-certified building designed by the global architects Snøhetta and Mario Botta. In addition to our seven gallery floors, SFMOMA now offers over 45,000 square feet of free, art-filled public space open to all.

Visit sfmoma.org or call 415.357.4000 for more information.

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Media Contacts

Clara Hatcher Baruth, chatcher@sfmoma.org, 415.357.4177

Rebecca Herman, rherman@sfmoma.org 415.357.4174

Alina Sumajin, alina@paveconsult.com, 646.369.2050

 

Image: Hank Willis Thomas, Guernica, 2016; courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; © Hank Willis Thomas; photo: courtesy the artist