Last Sunday, people in southern California not interested in football of the American stripe could have gone to the opening of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) show, "Fútbol: The Beautiful Game."
The exhibit gathers seminal works of art from the last few decades that celebrate the world's love affair with soccer.
Franklin Sirmans, the curator who put the show together, grew up in New York City in the 1970s. "Pelé came to NYC in 1975," he told Fox News Latino via e-mail, "followed by Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer."
After scoring 619 goals in 638 games with the Brazilian club Santos, the greatest player in history came north to play three seasons with the New York Cosmos of the foundering North American Soccer League. His presence rejuvenated the league, briefly, and Sirmans attended soccer camps in Purchase, N.Y., that bore the Brazilian great’s name. He remembered "crying with 76,000 people in Giants Stadium in 1977 when Pelé retired."
No wonder, he said, he placed Andy Warhol's portrait of Pelé in the viewer's sight line as one enters the show.
The exhibit also includes Brazilian dance performances and video installations like Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno's "Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait" as well as Miguel Calderón's "Mexico vs. Brazil."
In that work, the Mexican artist spliced together actual game footage to recreate a game between the two national squads that El Tri "won" 17-0. When he showed it at a bar during the 2005 Sao Paulo biennial, patrons were outraged at the result.
Another artist whose bright, Pop-like work is featured is Nery Gabriel Lemus, a local Los Angeles artist whose parents are Guatemalan citizens. His serigraph is an homage to the sort of homemade soccer balls that kids throughout the world have been fabricating for decades.
""There's something unifying about soccer," Lemus told a reporter. "All you need is a ball, and you can play anywhere."