Friday Group Ride #353

Friday Group Ride #353

There was a time when I could produce a reasonable copy of a famous Van Gogh self-portrait from memory. I was drawing a lot then, and I became preoccupied with the bold lines and wild-staring eyes of the artist’s face, the bewilderment and seriousness, and maybe even the anger. Thirty years later, I can still just about do the nose and eyes.

Van Gogh’s life parallels, loosely, the beginning of cycling history. I don’t know that he ever rode one, and I don’t think, when I first became fascinated by his work, that I had any real sense of how it might remain relevant in my life beyond those teen years of disillusionment and the active seeking of anti-heroes to populate my creative universe.

Without putting a shovel into the deep soil of posthumous Van Gogh analysis, what I will say is that he was a guy who saw the world differently, who stayed true to his vision despite its obvious lack of popular support, and who was ruled by strong passions. For me, those are all positive attributes.

For a cyclist, the idea that we might not finish a ride (our vision of the day or days on the bike) is anathema. We ride to see the world in a different, better way. It stirs passions, strong and deep. We, most of us, turn to cycling as a reaction to our world, a way to push back against the forces of constraint, lethargy, apathy, stress, and responsibility.

These are trying times for sure, both in the larger world and in the sport of cycling, and I find myself turning more and more to art for some relief from all of the above. I find it expresses my feelings in a less conflicting way than prose does, and inspires me to seek out creative outlets for myself or even, occasionally, a bike ride.

Let’s not talk about cycling art without acknowledging our deep debt of gratitude to Bill Cass, creator of RKP t-shirts and posters. Bill’s art captures the movement and joy of cycling in a unique way.

Photography is another good go to. I was on the phone with Radio Freddy the other day and he clued me into a few classic cycling Instagram accounts that fill my feed with inspiration, too. Try out:  On the Back FootPeace Love and Mungbean, and Het Kleinste Wielermuseum.

We also like The Monuments work done by the Handmade Cyclist. The only question is, how much wall space can you reasonably devote to cycling art? The answer is some N+1 analog for certain.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what cycling art do you love? What inspires you? Give us examples and give us links. Or, does this stuff bore you? You prefer the black and white of print, the asphalt and sand of the real road.

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  1. KG

    The art of racing.
    Whether it be a race I’m in or one that I’m watching, I dig it. We all know the math. The power to weight ratio should rule always, but it doesn’t. The other factors that make the math become less relevant. In a sense, the other points throw reason out the window.
    A rider finding the correct position for the sprint, attacking at just the right point in the race, or the solo break that stays away against all odds. The riders that aren’t the strongest fighting the odds with will and determination most of us never attain is the art I go for.

  2. Fausto

    Edward Hopper, French Six Day Rider, is my favorite cycling fine art painting. Duchamp, Wheel on the Stool sculpture/found art. My Campy spoken here print and a Gitane/Fignon poster.

  3. TRain

    Check out the art of Greg Curnoe. He was a serious cyclist and created an impressive body of work documenting his love of the bicycle. Sadly he was killed on a club ride…..a great loss to both the cycling and art community.
    R.I.P. Greg

  4. Jeff Dieffenbach

    LOVE KG’s line of thinking. It’s art watching a talented bike handler move a bike around on dirt to maximize use of the terrain.

    Answering the question more literally, how about Didier Lourenco ( Bikes are rarely front-and-center across the range of his work, but they’re often present.

    As a cyclist and a sailor, his images in this style first caught my eye:

    When I just went to his website, I found this new (to me) image that I also love:

    1. wyatt

      Wow Jeff, great shout to Didier Lourenco. Id never heard of him before your post. Now I have made myself late to this day lingering with his work. I love it. Thank you.

  5. John Kopp

    NAHBS. Many of the bikes are truly works of art! Not just the craftsmanship, but the design and finish are just wonderful!

  6. TomInAlbany

    Ashley and Jered Gruber’s photos are amazing. I love the Peloton photo annual. That annual art collection that revolves around the bicycle lives on my coffee table until the next year’s comes along.

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