As the art world continues to expand the definition of what constitutes art, it seems more and more artists are increasingly determined to turn just about anything into a canvas. One phenomenon that falls into this realm of art expansion is the combination of art and basketball. A few examples of this unique collaboration have popped up over the last 40 years. In 1977, pop artist Robert Indiana painted the basketball court at the Mecca Arena. Then, in 2016, KAWS painted Manhattan’s Stanton Street courts, and a few years following, artist Yinka Ilori painted London’s Canary Wharf basketball courts. Of course, there are less literal interpretations of the painted basketball court like Well Hung by Suzanne McClelland and Akhet 1 by David Huffman. It seems the arts and basketball simply cannot be kept apart, and the trend continues.
In March, American artist Trenton Doyle Hancock installed CAMH COURT, the first-ever playable basketball in a museum setting. According to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s website, the work is celebrating “the March–April 2023 NCAA Men’s Final Four® in Houston. CAMH COURT uniquely conforms to the signature dimensions of CAMH’s Brown Foundation Gallery by canting a regulation-size court into a parallelogram. Emerging from Hancock’s hyper-imagination, the court is an immersive and uniquely spirited environment where players might dunk from the three-point line or lose themselves in the embrace of Hancock’s striped Bringback characters, which swarm from baseline to baseline.”
A sign written in both English and Spanish greets guests:
How to Play:
1. All ages are welcome!
2. Sign your waiver
3. Wear rubber-soled shoes
4. Trade your ID for a basketball
5. Invite your friends and family
6. Have fun!
Trenton Doyle Hancock is the perfect artist to install this real-life, playable basketball court in a museum space. Over the course of his career, Hancock has created an array of alternate realities through fictional characters and stories. His work is meaningful and playful, all at the same time. Now, Hancock imposes a new kind of alternate reality where sports, art, action, and design coexist in the same space—inviting people into an art space who may never have thought to step inside it before. Perhaps the expansion of the definition of art is allowing for unusual collaborations and creating new worlds of possibility—one where sports and art enthusiasts alike share their stories, and maybe even get crossed up while doing so.
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