With the title “Size Does Matter” for his debut show as a curator, one has to wonder if Shaquille O’Neal is talking about the size of one’s wallet, connections, ego, or one’s preference to bra size. With the opening of the show at Chelsea’s FLAG Art Foundation the famous basketball player, actor, and rapper can now add “art curator” to his ever-expanding resume of accomplishments. The exhibition includes work by 39 different artists, or “artstars” to be more accurate, whose works explore the myriad ways that scale affects the perception of contemporary art. The scale theme is extremely fitting: weighing 320 pounds and standing 7’1 atop his size 22 shoes, Shaquille O’Neal has described his own size as “monumental” and he has the ability to dwarf just about everyone in his presence.
O’Neal made sixty-six selections for the show, which features works ranging from the ginormous billboard-sized Andreas Gursky’s photograph Madonna I to the microscopic work of Willard Wigan. It is rumored that the works were chosen from over 200 images that FLAG founder Glenn Fuhrman and director Stephanie Roach showed him over dinner after a game. O’Neal has also admitted that he is a great friend of Donald Trump who has four or five Picassos on his plane that O’Neal likes to look at when flying with him. And with that, viola, a curator is born. Describing the process of picking the works to include in the show, O’Neal explains, “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.” With this criteria in mind it is not surprising that another theme of the show could be “half-naked women,” or “ginormous breasts,” as pieces by Richard Patterson, Dr. Lakra, and Lisa Yuskavage graphically illustrate. O’Neil also plays the role of the muse for the show inspiring works like Willard Wigan’s Micro Shaq, Mark Wagner’s Shaq by Marq and Peter Max’s Portrait of Shaquille O’ Neal. These pieces embrace the famous basketball player’s happy-go lucky attitude, goofy grin, and larger than life attitude.
“Size Does Matter” is on display from February 19, 2010-May 27, 2010 at the FLAG Art Foundation in Chelsea. Shaquille O’Neil is best known as a center for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland’s controversial best-selling author James Fray, who has written extensively on art, has an accompanying book for O’Neal’s art show that features installation images and an essay.