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World Cup 2014: L.A. Museum's Exhibition, "Fútbol: The Beautiful Game" Features Andy Warhol's Silk-Screen of Brazil's Pelé

First Posted: Feb 05, 2014 07:45 PM EST
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GOOOAL for the arts!!! The excitement surrounding the World Cup, which kicks off on Jun. 12 and ends of Jul. 13, is mounting -- and appropriately the host nation will be Brazil, the birthplace of one of the greatest soccer players in the history of the game, Pelé.

In an early celebration for soccer's quadrennial World Cup, a new exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "Fútbol: The Beautiful Game," "portrays soccer as the world's lingua franca, highlighting the sport's globalization, commercialism, player worship and, perhaps most important, its exhilaration," according to The Wall Street Journal.

Upon entering the exhibition soccer fans and art aficionados will be greeted by Pelé's warm smile through artist Andy Warhol's 1978 portrayal of the soccer star on a vivid silk-screen. "Fútbol: The Beautiful Game" will run through Jul. 20.

It seems like the nostalgia of the game -- and the past -- is not only reaching the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This week Pelé, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1970, revealed that he had shared a FaceTime telephone conversation with friend and boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the Daily Mail reports.

Now both 73 years old, the two sports legends have been friends since they were at the height of their athletic greatness in the '70s.

Pelé tweeted: "Today I had a beautiful surprise. I was able to FaceTime with my idol Muhammad Ali."

Sadly, Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome in 1984, hasn't been in good health due to the effects of the disease.

Take a look back at some of Pelé's amazing plays, dribbles and passes throughout his career (and also continue reading below for what else to expect at the exhibition).

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's contemporary art curator Franklin Sirmans is also a huge soccer fan and has a personal connection to these type of exhibitions. During the 2006 World Cup, he organized concurrent soccer art exhibitions at Roebling Hall galleries in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and in Brooklyn, the WSJ reports.

What are some other highlights at the "Fútbol" exhibition?

Soccer and art fans can check out São Paulo artist Nelson Leirner's "deliberately kitschy 'Maracanã,' in which plastic toy figurines populate a miniature stadium ringed with statuettes of Christ the Redeemer," as well as "a 9-foot-tall Andreas Gursky photograph that renders a bird's-eye perspective of a Netherlands-France match.

Another creative visual and auditory component to the exhibition is a video of a pickup game in Latin America that "captures the sights and sounds of a convivial neighborhood gathering."

On the flip side, "Lyle Ashton Harris's black-and-white photojournalism delves into "Verona supporters' terrifying passion as they scale fences separating them from the field."

Besides the love of the game comes the money and fame, but that doesn't mean there weren't hardships. In many cases, African players who played soccer in Europe encountered racism. This is depicted in British artist Satch Hoyt's "unsettling sculpture, 'Kick That.'"

Onlookers will also see "a black soccer ball adorned with jewels and euro currency signs sits atop a pedestal of bananas (projectiles that have been thrown at black players). From a distance, the artwork deceptively resembles a trophy," WSJ adds.

Lastly, "Mexico City prankster Miguel Calderón offers a surreal video collage of Mexico putting 17 goals past Brazil in a single match; the provocative illustration by L.A. artist Amitis Motevalli of an armed jihadist protecting a co-ed children's soccer game; and Antoni Muntadas' euphoric video montage of goal celebrations," among others that are sure to make any visitor of the exhibition look at the game of soccer or fútbol in a whole new light. 

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