Art of the Day: The Cleveland Indian

Ever since Cleveland has been declared a city of champions once again, it seems like all of our sports teams have been on a hot streak. Our own Cleveland Indians created a new franchise record with 14 straight wins over the past month, and we have two players going to the all-star game. Of course this is common knowledge for any Cleveland sports fan, but what you might not know is that the Cleveland Museum of Art has its own contemporary painting that honors the Tribe. 

Cleveland Indian

The Cleveland Indian (After Eakins), 1995-1998, R. B. Kitaj (1932-2007), oil on canvas, Unframed: 182.90 x 61.00 cm (72 x 24 inches). Gift of Agnes Gund 1998.179 © Marlborough Gallery, New York

Cleveland-born artist R. B. Kitaj has been a baseball fan his entire life, and like many Clevelanders, he is familiar with the heartache of waiting for your hometown team to win a championship. So when the Indians won the American League pennant in 1995, he began to work on The Cleveland Indian. The solitary figure is not meant to be a portrait of a specific player, but is a representation of the entire team. To create this work, Kitaj took inspiration from artist, Thomas Eakins, and also studied numerous newspaper articles and photographs. He intentionally kept the background ambiguous to express his interest in abstract forms, expressive brushwork. And vivid color. You can check out this work and others in the museum’s online collection. Rolllllllll Tribe!

Guest Author

Christopher Moore

The Cleveland Museum of Art

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