Mark Grotjahn Creates the Most Watched Summer Sport on Instagram

Jonas Wood, Rashid Johnson, and Alberto Mugrabi are fans.



Photo via @markgrotjahn on Instagram.


Mark Grotjahn, the artist known for painting large, often dark, abstract canvases involving perspectival investigations harkening back to the Renaissance, has, as of late, been preoccupied with something a little less austere—beach balls and lampposts. And art world heavyweights are avidly watching his every move.

Grotjahn (see artnet News’ Top 10 Most Expensive Living West Coast Artists) has, it seems, created a new game that he’s been playing and assiduously documenting on Instagram.

The rules of the game, “Beach Ball Lamp Soccer,” are simple: Grotjahn, wearing shorts and a T-shirt standing in what appears to be his front lawn, kicks a beach ball into the pointed crowns atop two lampposts attempting to get it stuck in the lamppost. If he misses, he tries again (he’s got several beach balls by his feet).

Such is the most watched summer sport on Instagram, played by the world’s preeminent player.


Photo via @markgrotjahn on Instagram.


Grotjahn devoted most of last week to this gentlemanly effort.

The artist’s wife, Jennifer Guidi, fastidiously filmed every attempt, and there are over 100 videos dedicated to the documentation of this odd sport, many of them with fun asides of him doing random things. In one, he drinks a peanut butter smoothie and sings about it before lackadaisically kicking the ball.


Photo via @markgrotjahn on Instagram.


The game is reminiscent of the time at Art Basel in 2008 when Olaf Breuning held an art world arm wrestling tournament and Neville Wakefield and Andrew Cramer had an art world paintball game. On the Instagram front, Takashi Murakami recently posted about 20 videos from a night of heavy drinking. (See Takashi Murakami Enters His Skull Period at Gagosian.)

Initially things hadn’t been going so well, until April 29, when Grotjahn finally nailed an attempt, setting off a five-post-long celebration, in which Grotjahn shouted, “Yes!” a dozen times, followed by an eruption of “Unbelievable” exaltations. “Un-fucking-believable,” he shouted.

This prompted a young girl, presumably Grotjahn’s daughter to ask, “What are you going to do now?”

Another winning attempt garnered kudos from a crowd more selective with its praise.

Painter Jonas Wood (@jonasbrwood) wrote, “winning.” Rashid Johnson (@rashidjohnson) said, “Congrats!” Megacollector Alberto Mugrabi (see The Art Collector and the Brillo Box) curiously sent a series of four embarrassed emojis. Even Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun got in the game, commenting, “Yes!!!”


Photo via @markgrotjahn on Instagram.


Later in the day, Grotjahn, whose birthday was May 2 (Gagosian, his gallery, wished him a belated happy birthday Monday), can be seen blowing out candles as Happy Birthday is sung to the Beach Ball Lamp Soccer champion.

In other news, Grotjahn’s new exhibition, Fifteen Paintings, opened the very evening the artist scored the second lamp goal, and is on view at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles through June 20.

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