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Hockey Legend Bobby Orr and Fellow Players in the Flesh


Must be the month for nude hockey players. Earlier in the month Toronto Maple Leaf Jiri Tlusty flashed his bits over the internet, and now a NYC exhibition is making headlines for its paintings of hockey players in the buff.

OrrKurt Kauper's exhibit "Everybody Knew That Canadians Were The Best Hockey Players" features portraits, some entirely nude, of former Boston Bruins players Bobby Orr (above, and pictured here, back in the day), Derek Sanderson, and others.

Of the paintings, Kauper told the Boston Globe: "Inspiration struck after a visit to Paris. There, Kauper saw one of his favorite works, a 19th-century image of Napoleon ascending to heaven by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. In the work, the French general is nude. You certainly couldn't do that nowadays - represent a cultural icon in the nude as a gesture of adoration and immortalization," said Kauper. 'That gets to how nudity is perceived today. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to try to make a painting of an icon in the nude and see what kind of response I got from viewers.'"

The reaction from players has been mixed. Said former Bruin Brad Park: "I see a picture of Bobby with some genitals, and a picture of Turk with some genitals. That's hard to take. I definitely would think Bobby would be uncomfortable with it. Derek, in his heyday, would have posed for it."

Discomfort is part of the point, however, said Deborah Kass, a curator who has worked with Kauper: "He takes these people we identify and idolize and presents them at their most stripped down, and because it's a male nude it makes people incredibly uneasy. I really don't know anybody else who is doing that."

The installation can be viewed here. See the full Bobby Orr, after the jump...

The show runs through December 15th at Deitch, 76 Grand Street, New York.

In artist's vision, an icon in the flesh [boston globe]
Deitch Gallery [official site]

Heeeeeeere's Bobby! (NSFW)

Toronto Maple Leafs and Jiri Tlusty Respond to Nude, 'Gay' Photos [tr]
NHL Toronto Maple Leaf Rookie Jiri Tlusty: "I am Not Gay" [tr]
Tom Cavanagh: Kissing a Man? No Problem [tr]
Professional Hockey, Gays, and the "Ex-Gays" Who Hate Them [tr]

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  1. I'm gonna give a baseless critique here, but these painting are shoddy both technically and compositionally. If it weren't for the "naughty" factor, which is about as cheap a trick as you can use, they would be ignored.

    Posted by: Gregg | Nov 29, 2007 11:54:34 AM

  2. Did I miss something? Park speaks of the Orr and "Turk" like they're deceased! And Deborah Kass? Feh! C'mon, uncomfortable? What kind of crap is she trying to buzz this show with? And pardon me for being ageist, but hell, I'd much more enjoy portraits of them now. Cute twinky jocks are fairly common and the portraits painted aren't exactly stellar, aside from technical mastery.

    Posted by: FizziekruntNT | Nov 29, 2007 11:57:57 AM

  3. Whoops. Didn't mean to imply that Bobby Orr is "the" Orr. Well, not that we'd know...that strategic hand placement is so...ohhh, daring. Meh.

    Posted by: FizziekruntNT | Nov 29, 2007 12:01:40 PM

  4. i agree with gregg

    Posted by: alguien | Nov 29, 2007 12:28:43 PM

  5. Some info:

    Kurt Kauper is a really good artist. Those claiming shoddy technique, based on seeing reproductions, ought to remain silent unless or until they see the actual paintings.

    I also like the fact that Kauper is heterosexual. (I know him.)

    Deb Kass, who is a lesbian, is an artist, not a curator.

    Posted by: Nick | Nov 29, 2007 12:34:32 PM

  6. He may be a good artist, but he made some crappy portraits based on a crappy idea. Enjoy!

    Posted by: Scott | Nov 29, 2007 12:59:07 PM

  7. Got to agree with Gregg and Scott: you don't need megapixels to tell bad portraiture and sloppy technique: although he might be heterosexual, his work reminds me of most 'gay cinema': crappy work which the gay community laps up because it's titillating rather than well done.

    Posted by: Steve | Nov 29, 2007 1:58:41 PM

  8. I'd like to see this work mounted in Canada. Now, that would be inspirational.

    Posted by: Marc | Nov 29, 2007 2:04:46 PM

  9. If you saw this stuff in a lawn sale, you wouldn't look twice.

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 29, 2007 7:54:49 PM

  10. bobby orr with a crewcut and a 60s Bruins sweater is way more sexy and titillating than some crappy paint-by-numbers piece. man, he was hot in the day. when i was a high school hockey player i'd see those old pictures and while i didn't know i was gay then, something was happening...

    Posted by: james | Nov 30, 2007 10:22:17 PM

  11. You people crack me up. Is anyone here an art historian, degreed and graduated, and holding a job? These are just photos, folks . . . .

    Posted by: Leducdor | Dec 2, 2007 2:29:27 PM

  12. Believe it or not, nowadays most of the paintings that people have viewed in their lifetimes, particularly of masterpieces, have been photographs of the works. Granted, it is not the best way to view a work of art. But a photograph does not transform a gorgeous piece of masterful work into a crappy looking and poorly composed drawing, as these look.

    As for me - degree, no. Schooling, yes. Experience viewing original works and photos of those same works, yes.

    Posted by: Gregg | Dec 2, 2007 11:25:48 PM

  13. Beyond tacky. This art would feel at home on the walls of some northern Canadian bath house. It's got that "I'm going to get you" quality.

    Posted by: Tim | Oct 15, 2013 4:05:30 PM

  14. I don't understand modern artists with a fear of showing full nudes. Fig leaf mentality. Would have done well in the dark ages.

    Posted by: Timothyjames | Mar 9, 2014 9:08:29 PM

  15. I stand with Gregg, Scott and company: it's back to art school for Mr. Kauper! No amount of special pleading is going to make that left leg human.

    Posted by: Aunt Sharon | Mar 29, 2014 3:16:33 PM

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