Today, on the anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death in 1994, I'd like to propose a bit of a debate.
Can an athlete's performance be considered art?
Art is a word that has the capacity to ignite ferocious debate. Most reasonable folks can agree that the works of Mozart and Shakespeare and DaVinci and Miles Davis are on equal footing when it comes to applying the "This is Art" label. But is "Piss Christ" art? Is Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" art? Are Jackson Pollack's splattered canvases art? Are the works of Ruby the elephant art?
What is the definition of art?
I'm not an art historian, an art scholar or and art expert of any kind whatsoever. I do appreciate art and consider its creation to be one of the defining characteristics of humanity. I think The Who's "Live at Leeds" is as important an artistic statement as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, so take my opinion for what it's worth. But that's where I go for my definition. I tend to think of art as any expression of the human condition. Art, like beauty, is all in the eye of the beholder.
So the question is, could Ayrton Senna's performances in a Formula 1 car be called a work of art? Do those drives say as much about the human condition as Charles Mingus' "Epitaph" or Michelangelo's "Universal Judgement"? Can an athletic performance be considered art?
While you're considering it, find "Senna" on Netflix or wherever you get your movies these days, and watch it.