Sports photography is a genre which has to capture the action going on at any given moment. But that of course tells only part of the story. In Tennis Fan, by German-born photographer and tennis enthusiast Stephen Würth, we see well past what’s happening while the balls are in the air. In fact, this tome delivers much more of what goes on beyond the sidelines and baselines – and all the way off the court – with a confidence that what exists out of bounds is just as important.
From the very start, readers will be able to tell they are in for a different kind of sporting experience: The bold red cover displays the title and author name in a refreshing 1970s font, prompting them to wonder: Is that when this artist first fell in love with tennis?
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Würth goes on to capture dramas of life on and off the court. He catalogues empty arenas, hard-pressed cameramen, and of course ecstatic fans. The photos – all in black and white – starkly capture both the energy of actual matches and the way players and the sport are represented in the media. There is a quiet, almost sacred love of the game revealed in these photos. Even a small item, such as a tool used to mark court lines, takes on the sculptural quality of an object whose purpose lies in motion, deserves contemplation while momentarily at rest.
Whether his lens finds a location is a rooftop in Manhattan, a match in Palm Springs, a billboard featuring a three-dimensional tennis racket, or a snapshot of an a Nike ad taken on a gritty subway platform, Würth chooses not to simply record the sport, but its hold on him and his world as an artist and tennis fan.
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Last modified: September 13, 2019