With roots in the Neolithic era, wrestling is one of the most ancient and theatrical sports. Known (non-colloquially) as a “grappling sport,” early iterations of our current conception of wrestling have roots in particular in China, Japan, India, Egypt and Ancient Greece. The Sports - Wrestling folder in the SVA Library Pictures Collection provides a wealth of insight into the long history of the sport, with images of soldiers training through wrestling, some of the sport’s giants (in Andre the Giant’s case, literally), and Sumo wrestlers, among many other practitioners of the sport. Wrestling is considered by some to be a kind of theatre (of cruelty, in Antonin Artaud’s sense of the term, perhaps) given the sport’s reliance on elaborate costumes, personas, archetypes and feigned violence. To others, it is a super-serious sport which necessitates immense physical strength and dexterity. Perhaps in reality, or at least sometimes, it is both. Wrestling is, without a doubt, a spectacle. Considered a macho sport, wrestling is a celebration of normative masculinity to such an extreme degree that it veers into camp. Women wrestle as well, unsurprisingly, a fact that has been recently depicted in the Netflix show GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), about the making of a reality television show about women’s wrestling in the 1980s. The images in the folder would make great fodder for figurative artworks, given the range of facial expressions and interactions between bodies that wrestling invites. SEE ALSO: SPORTS - WRESTLING (POST FROM 1/31/2014). 

Seen from the sidelines, four sets of men practice wrestling as their coach watches.

A referee on his hands and knees observes a wrestling pair at close range.
Two shirtless men wearing leggings and lace up boots wrestle standing up.
A wrestler shakes his fists in celebration of a win. The background is yellow.
A sumo wrestling match observed from the wrestling equivalent of nosebleed seats.
A man wearing a head-to-toe spandex Mexican wrestling uniform poses. On the left of the image a text reads "Mascara Sagrada"
Early 20th Century illustration of two wrestlers from different nations engaged in a match as a crowd observes.
A team of wrestlers practice various moves within a ring as two coaches observe.
Two sumo wrestlers lunge at one another while a referee or coach observes.