Explore the Sport and Spectacle of Basketball Through History, Art, Photography and Campus Events

Sept. 13, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas — The sport of basketball has captivated the nation and the world for more than 120 years. This fall, a cross-campus collaboration at The University of Texas at Austin inspired by the 1891 "Original Rules of Basket Ball" document, captures the spirit and history of basketball from its humble beginnings in a Massachusetts YMCA to the grand spectacle of the modern NBA.

Paul Pfeiffer's art photography of "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (07)"

Paul Pfeiffer, "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (07)," 2002, digital duraflex print, Collection Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, New York, Courtesy The FLAG Art Foundation, © Paul Pfeiffer. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Blanton Museum of Art

On view Sept. 16 through Jan. 13, 2013, the Blanton presents "The Rules of Basketball: Works by Paul Pfeiffer and James Naismith's 'Original Rules of Basket Ball,'" an exhibition of contemporary art by Paul Pfeiffer presented in conjunction with a special display of James Naismith's "Original Rules of Basket Ball" — the 1891 document that outlined the 13 original rules of the game. In 1891, Naismith, then a young teacher at a Massachusetts YMCA, developed the game of "basket ball" as an activity designed to alleviate the boredom of his indoor physical education classes. He devised the game with two peach baskets and a ball, and drafted an accompanying set of rules typed on two sheets of paper. On loan from Austin collectors Suzanne Deal Booth and David Booth, "The Rules" document outlines the fundamental structure of a game that would later become a national obsession — one that is explored in Pfeiffer's photographic and video work. Pfeiffer's body of artwork on basketball explores the phenomena and spectacle that surround the sport. Through eight photographs and six video installations, the artist re-frames the players, the ball and the architecture of the sports arena to underline the sublime potential of the sport and its metaphoric undertones. Visit the Blanton's website for more information about "The Rules of Basketball" exhibition and accompanying events and lectures.

Basketball photo from 1961

"Clipping a Hawk on the Wing" (St. Louis Hawks vs. New York Knicks), New York Journal-American, February 25, 1961. Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center.

Harry Ransom Center

From Sept. 18 through Dec. 9, the Ransom Center's display "Basketball: Power in Play" features 32 photographs from the 1940s through the 1960s from its New York Journal-American collection. The photographs depict various perspectives on the game, such as women in basketball, wheelchair basketball, the Harlem Globetrotters and training and techniques, as well as images of incredible shots and blunders.

The materials will be on view in the Ransom Center's lobby during exhibition gallery hours and in the third-floor Director's Gallery, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports

The Stark Center will host a symposium during the fall semester about the history and cultural significance of the sport of basketball. The date and time of the symposium will be announced on the Stark Center’s website as soon as speakers are confirmed. Also on the Stark’s website, visit "An Evolution: Texas Women's Basketball."

High-resolution press images are available.

For more information, contact: Samantha Youngblood; Jennifer Tisdale, Harry Ransom Center, jentisdale@utexas.edu, 512-471-8949; Janice Todd, Stark Center, jan@starkcenter.org, 512-471-0993.