A Bobby Orr Item That I Don’t Want In My Collection

That’s right, I don’t want the item(s) that I’m going to show you today.

First, let me start off telling you why I am writing about this today. Truthfully, I didn’t want to do a post this week. The temperature here in Mass. has been 90-95 degrees for the past four days. I’ve had a busy weekend and was coming home from a trip to the flea market with friends when I casually mentioned that I was going to take this week off, which would be my first since I started this blog back in December 2009.

They urged me to keep going. I said that it’s getting tougher to find interesting items to write about. They said to think outside the box. Maybe write about what I look for in an Orr collectible or just talk about Orr collecting in general. It doesn’t have to be a long write up, just something.

As they were talking I suddenly remembered reading a controversial story about an Orr painting a few years back. Some of you might know what I’m talking about already. If not, here it is.

Orr nude

Bobby Orr nude by artist Kurt Kauper. This was painted in 2007 and shown as part of an exhibit in New York. This is the painting from the waist up.

He also did this one of Orr.

Orr nude2

Besides Orr he also did a similar painting of former Bruin Derek Sanderson as well as movie star Cary Grant.

Here is a write up about the event, artist and paintings:

“It’s Bobby Orr as you’ve never seen him — stark naked and smiling.

An oil painting of the hockey icon au naturel is the centrepiece of an art exhibition in New York City featuring the work of Kurt Kauper, a Boston-area artist who grew up in the 1970s worshipping Mr. Orr and the Boston Bruins.

The Orr nude stands 2.28 metres tall (seven-foot-six), and shows him turned slightly to the side.

The thought of Mr. Orr naked in an art gallery must be turning Don Cherry’s face a vermilion hue, even brighter than his neckties.

The painting is based on a hockey card of Mr. Orr in full uniform on the ice. Mr. Orr did not pose for the painting — nor was he aware what the artist was up to.

The exhibit, titled Everybody Knew Canadians Were The Best Hockey Players also features a portrait of Mr. Orr’s teammate, Derek Sanderson, in the buff.

Mr. Sanderson — a notorious party animal in his prime — likely would have agreed to pose nude back in the day. But like Mr. Orr, he was not aware he had been turned into a gallery nude. Mr. Sanderson is painted standing next to his locker with nothing but his hockey stick.

The hockey paintings have resonated with New York’s blasé art-world types. Mr. Kauper told the Boston Globe that several paintings in the New York show, which runs through Dec. 15, have sold for between $50,000 and $135,000 U.S.

A staffer at the hip Deitch Projects gallery said last night that one of the two nude Orr paintings remains available. The other has been purchased, as has the Sanderson. The exhibition includes some non-nude portraits of several hockey players.

Mr. Kauper, 41, told the Boston newspaper that he was big hockey fan growing up and suffered watching the Bruins lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1974 Stanley Cup finals.

“I would call my interest in Bobby Orr more of an obsession at that age,” he said. “When we would play games in the neighbourhood, cops and robbers, I would pretend I was Bobby Orr moonlighting as a cop.”

Mr. Kauper said he was inspired to create the hockey portraits after seeing photographs of a series of old hockey trading cards in 2000.

“It occurred to me that it would be interesting to try to make a painting of an icon in the nude and see what kind of response I got from viewers.”

Mr. Kauper said the images on the hockey cards reminded him of 19th-century locket portraits.

“A locket portrait is a portrait of somebody you love and want to hold close to your heart,” he said. “When I think back to my obsession with Bobby Orr, it had a lot to do with almost a crush on Bobby Orr — and I don’t mean that sexually. So is it physical? It’s not physical in the sense of erotic lust, but there’s definitely some physical attraction to Bobby Orr’s image and his body.”

He said many have made the wrong assumption about his sexual orientation.

“People didn’t really ask the question so much as assume that I’m gay,” said Mr. Kauper, who is straight and lives in New York with his wife, photographer Annelizabeth Wells, and their two children.

“If a woman paints another woman in the nude, it would be interpreted as a painting having to do with a woman’s identity. But when a man paints this painting, it’s associated with homoerotic activity.”

One New York art critic was clearly smitten with the exhibition. “Stripped of their team uniforms in four larger-than-life paintings, the hockey icons appear almost unbearably vulnerable in Kauper’s immaculate, neo-academic style,” he said in a review.

But Brad Park, who played briefly with Mr. Orr and Mr. Sanderson on the Bruins was repelled when he viewed the paintings online.

“I see a picture of Bobby with some genitals, and a picture of Turk with some genitals. That’s hard to take,” Mr. Park told the Boston Globe. “I definitely would think Bobby would be uncomfortable with it. Derek, in his heyday, would have posed for it.”

Mr. Kauper is entitled to paint the hockey players without their permission under a First Amendment right to artistic expression.”

Now as much as I love all things Bobby Orr, this is just a little too much even for me.

If you are interested in what the exhibit looked like, including the full paintings, check it out here

4 Responses to “A Bobby Orr Item That I Don’t Want In My Collection”

  1. terry the bushpg says:

    for someone taking the week off, that was a hell of a diatribe! I agree with you that these pieces were not some that I coveted during my collecting days but I appreciate that the artist was going for a different slant on his hero. search through your newspaper photos for the one of a shirtless orr with white shorts on, behind a tennis net. I think that you will find that this is exactly the same image, only (scantily!) clad. do not be reticent to take a week off, gary- we will still love you long time…..

  2. Gary says:

    Thanks Terry. That photo of Orr shirtless behind the tennis net was actually a cover to a Boston Herald Sunday Magazine which I have. I’m nearing my 200th post which will be in a few months. I’ve been saving the spoons for that one. After that I might cut back a bit. Thanks though for the support.

  3. The Goog says:

    I agree, that was quite a post for one that almost didn’t happen! Nice job.

  4. scifinds says:

    I am pretty sure that if you saw a poster of this you would buy it. Hardcore Orr fan

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