When the internet blurs the lines between sports and art

If you, like most of the world today, spend too much time on social media, then you might have seen those memes juxtaposing photographs, with a particular fondness for sports, and classical art pieces, exposing the striking similarities between the two.


Accounts on Instagram or Twitter like @artbutsports love to highlight the strong emotions that can be found in a picture like the one of an injured and defeated Ja Morant, basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies, and in that of a (temporarily) dead Jesus Christ, painted by Annibale Carracci, lying on his mother lap. Both images share a visual connection and evoke powerful and solemn emotions.



Some are more abstract art works, like this Gustav Klimt painting sharing the same deep contrast of red, black and white colours with a circle in the middle as this snapshot of an epic block foul in a game between the Raptors and the Sixers. Our brain really does love pattern recognition, doesn't it?


In an interview for USAToday, the creator of @artbutsports detailed his approach to the mashups he creates: "A few months before quarantine began, I made the account. It’s starting to blow up. I’ve refined the approach a bit. I take an art image and try to make it sports and what seems to hit the hardest is what is happening in the current sports cycle. So if somebody punches somebody in a game, and I can get a mashup of that with art, that’s going to do much better than a sports photo from three years ago."