Art & Rugby? – story by Dieter Hanf

I am often asked how rugby and art go together and there are certainly good reasons to do so, because at first glance rugby appears as a hard, daring sport and seems to have very little in common with the subtlety of art.

The fact that my love of rugby and art has accompanied me all my life is based essentially on the same paradigms and I would like to present this today in two masterpieces.

Annette Schreiber, a gifted photographer, a master graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf/Germany, where Joseph Beuys once taught art, published a photograph titled “Hooked”, showing an unusual scene. In November 2018 she photographed the Empire State Building in New York. This is nothing special, considering the fact that this building was probably photographed a million times. However, Annette is a special artist of architectural photography, so you may be curious. In fact, the picture shows a crane that seems to want to lift the Empire State Building from its place because it seems to be attached to the hook of the crane.

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This may well be a humorous anecdote right now, in fact this picture is much more than that. Let’s take a closer look.

It is absolutely balanced in its composition. The crane, projecting from the right, stands in exactly the right position to the antenna tip of the Empire State Building. Opposite him towering upright and almost barely breaking out of the line are two more skyscrapers that seem to merge like a building. Their construction makes them recognizable as two buildings. The roof edge of the smaller left building divides the picture in its vertical centre and unconsciously directs the eye to the elaborate construction and roof of the Empire State Building. The stage structure of the building is rediscovered by the observer on the left and right, and on the second viewing, one sees that the shapes of the buildings on the left seem to reproduce the structure of the Empire State Building. A feature of Annette’s work is the technical completeness of the execution of her photographs, so it is no wonder that photography is absolutely perfect in all its aspects of composition, light, sharpness, depth, cut, texture and exposure. Three more features of this image are quickly forgotten through the humorous view. As a person you walk through the city, you see people, things, buildings, a crane, the Empire State Building … ok. Nearly all people won’t recognize the scene at all. Annette did, she lifted her head and the creation of art started to execute.

To create such a picture, you need a vision, you have to go in search of the right place, you have to do it quickly because the crane may change its position and the desired effect is gone. Then you need perseverance, a sense of the right angle, you need the right timing and the certainty and clarity is perhaps the only right moment, the artistically correct to do after a long hard photographic work with all your experience, then you need to calm down and push the button once.

This reminds me of Jonny Wilkinson’s Rugby World Cup-winning drop goal from 2003 in Australia. This is where the story starts to get around because superficially it is about 90 seconds on the clock, 17:17 on the scoreboard, a man, his vision, his eyes, his hands, a ball, his foot, two square meter rugby pitch, the wind, the rugby bars and the ball flying over it, that’s it! No! It is not like that. Not only because it is about rugby history, as England won the World Cup as the first Northern hemisphere team against the reigning Champions on their home ground. Not only it was Jonny Wilkinson, as he kicked in the perfection of course. It is the result of a team vision, it is a result of permanent perseverance, tactical sense of the forwards, the scrum-half, technical knowledge, clarity, and the certainty is perhaps the only right moment, under high pressure in perfection to do the sporty right thing.

Take a look for yourself.

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