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Art and Fitness III

In the late sixties, the artist Bruce Nauman created a number of videos based on “an awareness of yourself” that comes from “exercises” rather than simply thinking or reading, as he said in an interview from the period. His current show features seven video installations that look back on one of those pieces, Walk With Contrapposto (1967-8). I wrote about it here.

Art and Fitness II

Pictures of people doing handstands in exotic locations, usually while on vacation, have become a mainstay of the fitness world in the New Frontier. I’ve been guilty of a few. Here I am on the Parthenon, for instance: One can make the argument that this particular strand of selfie culture has its origin, or at least an early exemplar, in Conceptual Art, Robert Kinmont’s 8 Natural Handstands (1969). Depictions of people engaged in fitness activities and sport are among the very oldest in art. Here, unlike those first images, there is almost no emphasis on the physique; rather it’s on the performance itself, which in this case feels like something of a party trick—and that’s probably why there’s a whiff of narcissism about it. That sense of showing off is only strengthened by the fact that it’s a self-portrait, one executed in a notably heroic setting, balanced on a rock…