The Art and Aesthetics of Boxing

The Art and Aesthetics of Boxing

Language: English

Pages: 204

ISBN: 0803213867

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

What separates the chaos of fighting from the coherent ritual of boxing? According to author David Scott, it is a collection of aesthetic constructions, including the shape of the ring, the predictable rhythm of timed rounds, the uniformity of the boxers’ glamorous attire, and the stylization of the combatants’ posture and punches. In The Art and Aesthetics of Boxing, Scott explores the ways in which these and other aesthetic elements of the sport have evolved over time. Scott comprehensively addresses the rich dialogue between boxing and the arts, suggesting that boxing not only possesses intrinsic aesthetic qualities but also has inspired painters, graphic designers, surrealist poets, and modern writers to identify, expand, and respond to the aesthetic properties of the sport. Divided into three parts, the book moves from a consideration of the evolution and intrinsic aesthetics of boxing to the responses to the sport by cubist and futurist painters and sculptors, installation artists, poster designers, photographers, and, finally, surrealist poets and modernist writers.
With distinctive illustrations and photographs in nine short chapters, Scott creates a visual as well as a textual narrative that supplements and concretely demonstrates the deep, dynamic relationship between the art of boxing and the world of art and literature.

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centre of the ring a mark be formed, to be termed a scratch; and that at two opposite corners, as may be selected, spaces be enclosed by other marks sufficiently large for the reception of the seconds and bottle-holders, to be entitled the “corners.” Soon after this date, the ring was raised onto a low platform, canvas replaced turf, and the scratch and corner marks were dispensed with, as was the presence of seconds in the ring. The key development in boxing ring design, however, one

in terms of his opponents’ fists, the bundle of boxing gloves hanging just behind his head metonymically expressing the flurry of punches he is about to suffer. The insight into the internal turmoil of the boxer is given in particular through the figure’s beseeching, upturned eyes, by the flawless but vulnerable torso, and by the half-open mouth in which the gum-shield provides an original artistic expression of both the torment and the ecstasy of the boxer. The effect of chiaroscuro, light and

highly surrealist image is that of the Arcari–Ortiz poster (1974) in which the victorious fist is raised above the profiles of two unconscious boxers. The choice of tender pink and violet shades and the delicate curves of the boxers’ facial profiles transform this poster into a quasioneiric vision which, though expressing the violence of boxing, seems to do so as in a poetic dream. An even more tender image of boxing is that proposed by the poster “Boxe educative” (1975; figure 64), in which a

piping, its “lined twill, double stitched, red welted seams” — and the sensual pleasure it afforded (visual, tactile, olfactory) still constitute today a not insignificant part of the pleasure of the sport, as is attested to by today’s catalogs of boxing equipment, some of which run to nearly two hundred pages of enticing advertisement. More important, it is interesting to see how quickly the punch ball (figures 66, 67) and boxing gloves as signs of masculinity make their appearance in

modern art in which tensions between order and chaos, stasis and dynamism, seek harmonious resolution. In its very public reenactment and in its highly stylized and ceremonialized forms, boxing is like a primitive ritual in which the darker or more ambiguous energies of a society are acted out, with their full implications being only partly or unconsciously grasped by the viewers. In this sense boxing reveals that it is, like other sports, itself a popular form of theater or art in which the

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