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Lance Armstrong and Nike Bring ‘Stages’ Art Exhibition to New York

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From left to right: Dzine beholds his custom lowrider, “The Tipping Point,” while Kenny Scharf discusses “5 For 99 Cents,” the mixed media painting he created for the Stages exhibition, on view at Deitch Projects in New York through November 21. (Photos: UnBeige)

We’ve followed “Stages,” the Nike-sponsored art exhibition to raise awareness and funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, from its Los Angeles launch to its Paris debut, and now the show has opened stateside in a dazzling installation at New York’s Deitch Projects. The aim of Stages, named for a term that can describe the progression of cancer or a cycling competition, is nothing short of “uniting the worlds of art, philanthropy, and sport in a unique celebration of human potential” through the newly commissioned works of 23 artists, a diverse bunch that includes Ed Ruscha, Cai Guo-Qiang, Christopher Wool, KAWS, Jules de Balincourt, and Rosson Crow. Armstrong hatched the idea with Nike president and CEO (and fellow art collector) Mark Parker to “offer artists a forum in which to convey the Livestrong ideals and portray what the movement means to them and how they see it changing the world.”

From left to right: Futura, Jules De Balincourt, Dustin Yellin, Eric White, Tom Sachs, Shepard Fairey, Jeffrey Deitch, Lance Armstrong, Mark Parker, Geoff McFetridge, Rosson Crow, Jose Parla, and Dzine (Photo: Nike)

“The artwork created for Stages consistently draws upon the inspiration of Lance and his singular story,” writes Parker in the exhibition catalogue, “one of courage and toughness and hope and a simple philosophy: never give up.” Tenacity comes in many forms. Catherine Opie took to the open road with her photo of a deserted country route, while Andreas Gursky contributed his manipulated vision of a stage in the Tour de France from 2006. Signature Livestrong yellow is also abundant, from Wool’s swirling silkscreen and Ruscha’s light-infused word painting to Eric White‘s “Foyer,” a black and white interior scene punctuated with yellow dots that reveal a forest—or at least the trees.

Tom Sachs brings tequila, which replaces the water bottles on “Lance’s Tequila Bike for Girls,” a Sachs-ified Trek racer fitted with such extras as a peristaltic pump and a tiny New York license plate that reads “BITCH.” In contrast to Sachs’ endearing DIY approach and Armstrong’s own famous statement, “It’s not about the bike,” is the colorful lowrider customized by Dzine. “The Tipping Point” is coated in 24-karat gold and spins slowly for maximum sparkle. Meanwhile, in the rear of the gallery, the work of Dustin Yellin takes desconstruction to a sobering extreme. The twin life-size sculptures of “If Ink Were Blood (Man and Woman)” suggest bloodless friends stripped neatly of their skin and suspended in blocks of ice. “They are testaments to the collective scientific vision and understanding of the human body,” Yellin has noted. “To cure cancer is to understand this beautiful machine.”

Stay tuned for more about Stages, including our interviews with contributing artists Geoff McFetridge and Rosson Crow.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Friday Photo: Livestrong Lowrider
  • Lance Armstrong Teams with Nike for ‘Stages’ Art Tour
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