The essence of sports is a fleeting moment of intense exuberance—life at its most exhilarating. At its best, sports art acknowledges yet counteracts life’s brevity by allowing the viewer to savor the intensity of a moment in motion. Artist Rick Rush is a master of the Sports Art genre.
Rick Rush has been appropriately called America’s Sports Artist. And, indeed, the title is well earned. Through his masterful interpretation and rich evocative use of color, Rush is able to preserve some of sports’ most stellar transitory moments as enduring commemorative testaments to the magnificence of both the exciting sports events and their incomparable athletes.
Mr. Rush goes beyond the mere visual portrayal of an event to capture the actual spirit of each particular occasion. This remarkable ability has moved well-known novelist and poet James Dickey, to assert that, “Rick is able to render the explosive essence of an action with more feeling of its reality than any numbers of actually moving images, such as those made possible by film, could do.”
In fact, the word “spiritual” has been used by more than one critic in appreciation of the way Rush captures the very nature of the sports and the soul of the sportsman. The moments he preserves are not frozen in the nostalgic stillness of the past, but breathe with a life of their own. To accomplish the amazing feat, Rush strips his subjects of all pretense and artifice to expose a central nerve of authenticity universal in its poignance and scope.
Realism merges with abstraction in Rick Rush’s work: the graphic blends with the ideal to form works singular in spirit—canvases that could only be created by one totally submerged in his subject and his art. That one of his early influences was the Impressionists can readily be detected. The subtly striking interplay and weavings of light found in his art is no mere coincidence. Mr. Rush’s masterful grasp of his craft allows him to take enormous emotional risks in presenting his views.
Perhaps, though, Rush can best be described as combining, in his own inimitable way, the free-spirited exuberance of LeRoy Neiman with the more traditional realism of Winslow Homer. His vision is all encompassing and the range of his interpretations is brilliantly eclectic. Upon viewing his work, one is struck with equal force by his acute attentiveness to minutiae and his brave and far reaching breadth of vision.
Mr. Rush employs a process in his paintings whereby he actually “paints” motion to create his breathtaking and astonishing works. To achieve his feeling of incessant movement, he abstracts his first images on the canvas by applying bold strokes with realistic images. The result of this painstaking process is that the initial motion of the moment is subtly felt in the portrayed active event, giving his subjects an additional strength of movement. This layering effect also adds greater depth and translucence to his work.
He began painting professional in 1975 and, since that time, Rick Rush has gained increasing international recognition. The impressive and diverse register of those who commission and own his work includes: two United States presidents, top financiers and entertainers, and many of America’s best known sports stars. In addition, Mr. Rush’s art can be found in the collections of The All England Club (Wimbledon), and many public museums and collections.
“Today’s winners are tomorrow’s losers; today’s losers are tomorrow’s champions. Athletes in the winners circle experience this brevity, as we all do in life,” says Rick Rush. With a finely discerning eye and powerful artistic style, Rick Rush creates stunning canvases that insist we step in and experience some of sports’ greatest dramas.