SBD/September 11, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Artist Peter Max Revives His First Painting Of Arthur Ashe Stadium For U.S. Open Image

Artist Peter Max was "asked to recapture the essence of Arthur Ashe Stadium, 20 years after he delivered a rendering for its debut," but it is "not easy depicting a stadium in a way that enlivens posters, T-shirts, magnets, luggage tags, even ticket stubs," according to Zach Schonbrun of the N.Y. TIMES. For Max, there was the "added pressure of living up" to the '97 version, which for many tennis fans had "come to best represent the energy and passion of each year's final Grand Slam tournament." The USTA "commissions an official theme artist" for the U.S. Open every year, "hoping to capture the individuality of the event with a more antiquated medium: paint." Max in an email wrote, "The U.S. Open challenged me to give the stadium the energy rather than a player. With all sports, it’s about movement, energy, and color, expressed through my brush strokes." USTA Creative Dir Beth Meyer said that because of the merchandising considerations, organizers "have to begin choosing the theme artist almost a year in advance." Schonbrun noted the "cultural influence of Max’s first painting of Ashe Stadium remained strong enough that tournament officials thought it was due for a revival." Max "submitted four sketches in January and began working on the new theme in the spring." The '97 version, which "depicted a steely blue stadium from an aerial viewpoint, in front of a fiery orange sunset, has not been dramatically altered." In the '17 image, two crossed tennis rackets -- not unlike the logo for Wimbledon -- hover above the stadium, which "now glows with hints of purple, green and vermilion." The original version is "still popular enough that the tournament is selling T-shirts with that image as well as with the new one." Meyer said, "I see people wearing both. I think the sales are going very well" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9).
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