Sunday, 14 October 2012


As Fantasy Bob has noted from time to time on these pages, there are relatively few great works of art which are inspired by or represent cricket. A cricketer can walk the length of many of the greatest galleries in the world without so much as a representation of the cover drive the leg glace or the drama of the fielder chasing the ball to the boundary. Cricketers are inured to this and take solace in the many representations of Christian iconography, of ancient Greeks and Romans in noble action and of empty landscape after empty landscape. Even abstract art appears to ignore cricket - it would cost an abstract expressionist nothing simply to name his (or her) latest set of incomprehensible squiggles 'Batsman #1' or 'Bowler Yellow and Green'. No one would be any the wiser as to whether the squiggles were a representation, an emotional response or interpretation or memory of the said action. A sophisticated abstractist could even claim that the painting so titled was deliberately the opposite or a negation of the title. But no artist has taken this route. It is incomprehensible to FB why this should be so.

But then every now and then there is a work which is so obviously a cricketing work that it goes without saying. And indeed when it comes to the great work above it has gone without saying for a long time.

This is Abstraktes Bild by Gerhard Richter. It was painted in 1994. Until last week it was owned by Eric Clapton. Clapton must have needed to clear some clutter in his house and put it up for auction. It sold for the handsome price of £21m - making it the most expensive painting by a living artist. So much for austerity you might think.

It is a fine painting. FB's worldwide readership may struggle to see the cricketing reference. But when they learn that it is described as a masterpiece of calculated chaos, they will understand. it is a chillingly accurate representation of FB's mental state in coming in to bat.

Richter is rightly described as the world's greatest living painter.

1 comment:

  1. It is surprising that cricket features so rarely in painting because the elegant and aesthetic nature of the game seems to lend itself to such artistic expression. Jack Russell used to set up his easel outside the boundary rope when he was waiting to bat but it's hard to imagine a footballer or a rugby player doing anything similar. Where Russell's work figures on the Richter scale is open to question - probably not £21 million but easier to live with.