If you’re anything like me golf is not your forte, and well, neither is driving a golf cart. The only time I ever went golfing was with my dad, and I drove our cart through a pristine flower bed. Needless to say, I’ve not golfed since, but my dad and I still laugh about the look on my face as I lost control of the cart and tore through the landscaping.
Perfect for Father’s Day, “Golf Magic” (ca. 1953) boasts an all-over pattern of golf balls whose shadows make them look so real that they just might fly off the vibrant yellow weave. This screen printed textile was designed by American artist Brian Connelly, produced by Associated American Artists, and printed by Signature Fabrics. AAA was both a gallery and organization founded in 1934 by Reeves Lewenthal, and was meant to connect American artists and their works with the public to make fine art more affordable and accessible.
As a textile produced by AAA, “Golf Magic” represents the beginnings of Pop Art in America, the American obsession with pop culture that began in the 1950s, as well as American Magic Realism. Not only is the textile a designed art object, but it’s also a consumer good. The graphic motif of the same golf ball repeated what seems like infinitely references the ideas of mass production, consumerism and popular culture, evoking the primary characteristics of Pop Art. Additionally, the medium, screen printing, is a method of printing that allows for rapid reproduction yielding a large quantity of the product allowing it to be mass marketed and produced. The production of this object is based on the premise that this artwork should be purchased by the general public. American Magic Realism, on the other hand, is described as a reaction to European Surrealism in which subjects were depicted realistically, but also in a fantastical way. In the case of “Golf Magic” the eye cannot discern whether the golf ball is sitting on the yellow ground casting a shadow or if it is hovering above. This sensation creates the optical illusion that the ball is forever moving. Significant too is that the title of the object is “Golf Magic,” which is not only self-referential, but also references the movement.
In the 1950s, a burgeoning middle class of American consumers would have been able to purchase this lively textile and related goods at major department stores. Can you imagine your dad’s favorite chair or shirt dotted with these incredibly realistic golf balls? Or maybe this textile has you envisioning yourself and dad teeing up on bright summer day? My dad wouldn’t think twice about sporting a shirt with golf balls on it, but then again, he is the man with the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian shirts.
Happy Father’s Day!