Wrestling with art

Posted on 6 November 2012

A major public lecture in York's historic Merchant Adventurers' Hall will explore the explosive and exciting combination of the visual arts and the sport of wrestling.

Mulready, William, Study of a cast of the 'Pancrastinae' or 'Wrestlers', ca.1800-1801

Dr Sarah Turner, from the University of York’s Department of History of Art, will present this year’s Merchant Adventurers’ Arts Discovery Lecture, “Wrestling with Art”, on Monday, 12 November.

Dr Turner will explore why so many artists across the globe have depicted scenes of combat sport, and highlight the important historic connections between art and sport.

Dr Turner said: “Since ancient Greece, artists have been fascinated by the aesthetics of the fight and the powerful figure of the wrestler. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was common for artists to use wrestlers and pugilists as life models. Wrestling gave artists the opportunity to study the physique and musculature of two figures in intensely dynamic and moving form.”

Dr Turner’s talk will be illustrated with many fascinating works, taking the audience on an action-packed visual journey to ancient Greece, 18th-century York, early 20th-century London and contemporary Senegal. As well as exploring the historic connections between art and combat sport, Dr Turner will also discuss the issues of empire, race and masculinity.

Wrestling gave artists the opportunity to study the physique and musculature of two figures in intensely dynamic and moving form

Dr Sarah Turner

Jointly hosted by the University and the Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York, the annual lecture highlights an important contribution which has been made to the arts.

Dr Turner specialises in art and visual culture in Britain and the British Empire, c.1800-1950. As the 2011 Research Fellow in the joint University of York/Tate partnership, Dr Turner researched Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s Wrestlers with the poet and wrestler, S.J. Fowler. Her interest in wrestling deepened when she was asked to write an essay on William Etty’s The Wrestlers for the recent exhibition William Etty: Art & Controversy at York Art Gallery. 

The Merchant Adventurers’ Arts Discovery Lecture takes place on Monday, 12 November at 6.30pm at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, York. Admission is by free ticket only. Visit www.york.ac.uk/tickets or call 01904 324466.

Notes to editors:

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322029

Keep up to date

 Subscribe to news feeds

 Follow us on Twitter