Now despite the fact that this article made my snob gland swell, I'm actually all for a big, inclusive tent in the art world. I think that having celebrities like Mr, O'Neal become part of the art process is at worst harmless, and at best good PR which shines more light on a business that can be seen as only for the intellectual elite. He's certainly entitled to his taste, opinions, and all the access that his wealth brings him. I would never for a moment suggest that he should be excluded, and, on the contrary, I respect his eagerness to explore areas outside of the usual wealthy athlete stereotype. But I wonder if the respect is a two way street. What if David Rockefeller, by virtue of his wealth, decided not only to buy a sports team, but to coach it on a daily basis? His players would be forced to call him "coach", but he would not be a real coach for lack of knowledge, experience, and training. He would get lots of help, suggestions, and support, of course, but then he'd fail in every way possible because he's just not qualified. And Shaq would be the first to cry foul.
So how come some rich athlete gets to walk in a gallery, point his finger at 20 art works, and get called "curator"? Isn't there another word that fills the void more accurately? It seems to me that, considering the incredible amount of wealth at play in the art world, some things come cheap.
Art Curator Shaq Is His Own Masterpiece
By Linda Yablonsky
Published Feb 7, 2010
How did you make your choices?
Art is a process of delivering or arranging elements that appeal to the emotions of a person looking at it. It’s what you feel. I picked those things because they were beautiful. The thing about size—if it’s big or small you have to look at it. Because I’m so big you have to look at me. I think of myself as a monument. But sometimes I like to feel small.
Do you ever get time to visit museums?
I used to go a lot with my kids. Donald Trump is a great friend, and he has four or five Picassos on his plane. And that’s where I would look at them. One time, I was at a museum and tried touching a Picasso. You break it, you buy it, they said. I was told it would cost $2 million.
Have you ever tried painting?
No, but I’ve met a lot of artists who wanted to paint me. LeRoy Neiman was one. He did it from a photograph. He made 20,000 copies, and we sold them all. Now I’m working with the greatest artist in the world, Peter Max.
Do you buy art?
I have six kids, and if they ripped something, I’d be devastated. Maybe when they grow up, I’ll buy. I’d like Ron Mueck [whose Untitled: Big Man appears in the show] to do a sculpture of me. I would like to make it twenty feet tall and put it in the middle of a residential neighborhood—make it two stories high and in the head I’d have my office.
You like people looking at you.
Yeah. When I go to New York I like to stand in the street and see what happens. When you look at a painting and try to figure it out—you look at me [the same way]. Everything in the world is art.
To me, it’s ballet, hip-hop, and kung fu. The ballet is grace, the hip-hop is cool, and the kung fu is kill the opponent.
Read more: Shaquille O’Neal on Curating the 'Size DOES Matter' Exhibit