When one enters the front door of the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA), catching the eye just across the room is a row of beautiful stylized bronze sculptures reflecting the action, energy and grace of players in a variety of sports.
The rare talent of the artist is immediately apparent. Not as apparent, but equally impressive, is the artist’s rare generosity. The pieces are part of a gift of 179 sculptures to the museum by internationally acclaimed Hungarian sculptor Ferenc Németh. Since the gift in 2011, his bronzes have been enjoyed by thousands who have visited the museum, which is part of the United States Sports Academy.
“Ferenc Németh’s art has a unique style that captures the essence of sports,” said Academy President Emeritus Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich.
“We are very grateful that a renowned artist like Németh continues to honor us with his generosity. It is a tacit recognition of the American Sport Art Museum and Archives as a world-class repository of art in all forms in the genre.”
Rosandich, founder of both the Academy and ASAMA, long ago recognized the symbiotic relationship between art and sport. He founded the museum in 1984, just a dozen years after the founding of the Academy. Since then, ASAMA has become one of the world’s largest and most significant sport art collections reflecting a wide array of media. ASAMA and the Academy share an open, sun-drenched building that is as aesthetically pleasing as the art it contains.
The museum brings together the work of exceptional artists from around the world, including Németh, whose cubist style depicts many sports legends such as Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Willie Mays, Pete Sampras, Carl Lewis and Michael Jordan, all of which are included in the ASAMA collection.
Németh’s “Cyclist” bronze sculpture, also located in ASAMA, depicts three bicyclists riding side by side with the wheels of their bicycles forming the five rings that are the symbol of the Olympics. It was first shown at the 2008 Art Biennale in conjunction with the Beijing Olympics.
In recognition of his talent, Németh was named the Academy’s 2012 Sport Artist of the Year. The award is presented annually to an individual who captures the spirit and life of sport so that future generations can relive the drama of today’s competition. During the Academy’s The Artist and The Athlete Tribute in Németh’s honor, the sculptor said he feels blessed to be an artist.
“It’s not me but the gods who deserve all the recognition for this award and my talent to create my artwork,” he said.
Németh earned his degree in architecture before receiving a fine arts degree. The artist said he was initially influenced by the analytic cubist style, rooted in Paul Cézanne’s reduction of natural forms into component planes.
“The first decade of my art life was spent in pursuit of my own style,” he said, explaining that he was eventually drawn to the significant cubist sculptures emerging from Prague and Russia in the mid-1920’s. He said the bronze sports sculptures in ASAMA are representative of this post-World War I “Cubo-Futurist” style.
The Hungarian sculptor rose to international prominence during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, at which two of his exhibited works were purchased by then-International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch, a noted collector who started the IOC Museum during his tenure.
For the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Németh created the street statue of “Olympic Pleasure” as a gift from Hungary. It was placed near the site of the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece, in view of the place where the Olympic Flame is lit every two years.
Former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are among the many prominent collectors of Németh’s work.
Founded in 1984, ASAMA, a division of the United States Sports Academy, is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,500 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.