Coming Sunday: Amusement at the museum

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Above: “Wrestlers,” 1899, by Thomas Eakins, oil on canvas, 48 3/8 by 60 inches, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Cecile C. Bartman and The Cecile and Fred Bartman Foundation.

A dual exhibit that opens Sunday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art called “Manly Pursuits: The Sporting Images of Thomas Eakins,” next to “Figure And Landscape” by Catherine Opie caught our attention and lured us over for the opening earlier this week.

Put it this way: If the LACMA is trying to shake the foundation of how one can interpret the beauty and power of a sports image, especially with a Southern California flair for the dramatic, it has succeeded in the most unlikely of places for a sports consumer, or connoisseur, to ever venture.

With Eakins’ work on 19th Century rowing, sailing, boxing, wrestling, swimming and even one on baseball, it’s the kind of sports art you’d expect to see on the walls of the L.A. Athletic Club or the clubhouse at the Bel-Air Country Club – an homage to past athleticism, painted at a time when the modern Olympics were just being revived in Greece.

With Opie, it’s a focus through her camera lens on high school football and surfing — the manly pursuits of athletes from today’s world.

Read more about it on Sunday …

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Right: “Dusty, 2007,” by Catherine Opie, chromogenic print, 30 x 22 1/4 inches, from the collection of Gerry Rich.

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