Creative Soccer Culture

OOF Announce Tops Off: A Century of Football Shirt Art Exhibition

Celebrating the humble football shirt as the canvas that it has become over time, purveyors of all things football and art related, OOF are putting on an exhibition titled “Tops Off: A Century of Football Shirt Art”.

As the world of Creative Soccer Culture expands, football and art have never been closer. One area that this is very evident in is through shirts. “Symbols, signifiers, armour, fashion: football shirts are everywhere, and can mean anything,” states OOF as they announce a new exhibition celebrating the increasingly intrinsic links between both worlds. It’s set to look at how artists have explored the power, ubiquity and recognisability of football shirts for a hundred years. From constructivism in the 1920s to conceptualism in the 2020s, it will celebrate a century of football shirts being used to communicate ideas of community, belonging and aesthetics.

The exhibition is set to feature some familiar works from the likes of Diana Al-Shammari, aka The Football Gal, who has very recently been on our radar for her work with Joules Kounde, and also the special one-of-one golden Messi Argentina shirt created by Fokohaela.

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When diving into what the exhibition is set to be about, the OOF release states: “Starting with Varvara Stepanova’s radical, experimental designs for football kits in the early Soviet era, the show goes on to look at the role of football shirts in the creation of national identities in Croatia and Ghana, as expressions of bias, anger and division in the work of Rachel Maclean and Trackie McLeod, and as portable, wearable canvases in the work of Christian Jeffery, Martin Kazanietz and Diana Al-Shammari. And that’s before we’ve even looked at teams who have taken inspiration from artists, like OGC Nice’s Yves Klein blue third shirt, Walthamstow FC’s William Morris kit, Leith Athletic’s Paolozzi patterned strip and an Ajax x Van Gogh collab that’s definitely not a bootleg, honest.

“It’s not just shirts though, it’s also, you know, like, art: Rhys Coren’s psychedelic videos are based on classic ’90s kit patterns, Leo Fitzmaurice creates origami wallpaper by folding cigarette packets into mini football shirts, Jil Mandeng explores her mixed heritage in paintings that combine African masks with European shirts, while Jonathan Monk’s flag speaks to the global dominance of major sports brands.

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The Tops Off: A Century of Football Shirt Art Exhibition runs 13 June to 28 September at OOF Gallery, N17, and entry is free.

Daniel Jones

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