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From baselines and sidelines, courtsides and ringsides, Walter Iooss has captured the angles and action of sports for more than 50 years. His photos of some of the biggest sporting events and most accomplished athletes of all time have shaped our vision of what sports looks and feels like.
Now a selection of his best work is on view at the Colby College Museum of Art. The exhibition, Game Time, includes images ranging from a fiercely concentrating Martina Navratilova at the U.S. Open to Iooss’s iconic overhead shot of Michael Jordan seemingly flying toward the net.
“These photographs of athletes brimming with speed and power, poise, and balance testify not only to the expressive capabilities of the athletic body but photography’s unique role in illuminating the drama and poetry of sports,” said Justin McCann, the exhibition’s curator and the Lunder Curator for Whistler Studies at the museum.
The 42 photographs selected for the exhibition include a wide range of sports, including canoeing, baseball, and track and field. Many are moving portraits of athletes at moments of great stress as well as triumph.
“These pictures also make us think about the intersection of sports and society,” McCann said. “Iooss’s photographs highlight that relationship and touch on issues of race, gender and sexuality, and celebrity in American culture.”
Game Time will be used by several Colby professors in their spring semester classes, and speakers and academic workshops have been planned around the exhibition, McCann said.
Iooss, who started shooting for Sports Illustrated in 1961—his photos have appeared on its covers more than 300 times—now concentrates solely on portraits of athletes and on the Super Bowl. The exhibition at the Colby museum offers a rare chance for visitors to enjoy the broader range and historical context of his work in one place.
The Iooss photographs are part of the Colby museum’s permanent collection. They are on view in the museum’s Upper Jetté Gallery through June 24.