Zidane A 21st Century Portrait/Un Portrait Du 21 Siecle

April 2 - June 19, 2011

About the Exhibition
Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait (detail), 2006,

This contemporary portrait was filmed during a championship match between Real Madrid and Villarreal on April 23, 2005. 17 cameras were positioned throughout the stadium and a team of camera operators were directed to remain fixed on soccer star Zinédine Zidane throughout the match. The film is composed of footage from all 17 cameras and raw footage from the main camera.

Before the match, artists Douglas Gordon and Phillipe Parreno led the camera crew on a research trip through Madrid's Prado Museum, emphasizing the history of portraiture and discussing reproductions of historical scenes shown in the artworks of Goya and Velásquez.

The artists play with the definition of a portrait as a still image traditionally shown in a gallery, and the idea of celebrity as shown in a Hollywood movie.

Who are the artists?
Douglas Gordon is a member of The Young British Artists (YBA) movement. Born in 1966 in Glasgow, Scotland, Gordon lives and works in New York.  After receiving a B.A. at the Glasgow School of Art in 1988, he undertook a graduate program at the Slade School of Art in London. Gordon was the 1996 winner of the Turner Prize, and in 1997 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.

Gordon made his name with video installations using classic films, such as Psycho. Gordon's work, 24 Hour Psycho(1993), shows a rear-projected installation of Hitchcock's film, slowed down to last an entire day.

Philippe Parreno is an accomplished artist and filmmaker. Born in Oran, Algeria, in 1964 he is currently based in Paris, France. Parreno rose to prominence in the 1990s, earning critical acclaim for his work, which uses a diversity of media including film, sculpture, performance and text.

One of his most recent works is: Invisibleboy (2010), which features the story of an illegal Chinese immigrant boy who sees imaginary monsters that are scratched onto the film stock.


Zinédine Zidane, nicknamed Zizou, is considered by many to be one of the best soccer players ever. The son of Algerian immigrants, Zidane was born in Marseille, France. He got his start playing soccer in the street where, at 14 years old, he was spotted by a talent scout and offered a place at academy of AS Cannes. 

In 2001, Zidane became the most expensive player in football history when Real Madrid acquired him for 46 million pounds. He led France to a memorable World Cup in 1998 by scoring two goals in the final. In World Cup 2006 he became only the fourth player in World Cup history to score in two different finals, and he is tied for first place with Vavá, Pelé and Geoff Hurst for having scored three goals in a World Cup final.

Zidane retired in 2006 after the World Cup final between France and Italy, where he made a now world famous head butt to the chest of rival player Marco Materazzi.

Glenbow Shop

Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France

"When France both hosted and won the World Cup in 1998, the face of its star player, Zinedine Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants, was projected onto the Arc de Triomphe. During the 2006 World Cup finals, Zidane stunned the country by ending his spectacular career with an assault on an Italian player.

In Soccer Empire, Laurent Dubois illuminates the connections between empire and sport by tracing the story of World Cup soccer, from the Cup's French origins in the 1930's to Africa and the Caribbean and back again. As he vividly recounts the lives of two of soccer's most electrifying players, Zidane and his outspoken teammate, Lilian Thuram, Dubois deepens our understanding of the legacies of empire that persist in Europe and brilliantly captures the power of soccer to change the nation and the world."

Glenbow Feature Exhibition

Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait
Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno

Organized by the National Gallery of Canada

April 2 - June 19, 2011

Soft cover
329 pages
29 Black and White photographs

By Laurent Dubois

Beyond our walls

Stylus Magazine was an online music and film magazine launched in 2002. It featured long-form music journalism, four daily music reviews, movie reviews, a number of different podcasts, an MP3 blog, and a text blog. The following link is to a movie review about Zidane: A 21 Century Portrait and includes Zidane's impression of the portrait.

Click here to see the review.

Click here to visit the site of Douglas Gordon.
Douglas Gordon Gallery site

Further Reading

"Zidane. His cropped hair, his leanness, give an impression of asceticism. His features are still, his eyes shadowed under heavy brows. There are flickers of consternation, of irritation, of concern, impatience and contempt; he smiles only once, sharing a joke with Roberto Carlos. But for the most part he is impassive. Even after his finest moment, in the 70th minute of the game, when he glides through the Villarreal defence, spins on his right foot and loops a perfect cross with his left for Ronaldo to score at the far post, his expression barely changes.

It has always been the convention in Hollywood cinematography that the close-up guarantees intimacy with its subject; in this, it shares with one important tradition of portraiture the notion that the image should express interiority. In Zidane, the relentless scrutiny of his face yields little in the way of an inner self, still less anything that would help us to account for his sublime skill. We feel for him, but do not identify with him; he is alone, lonely even, and distant, other."

Above: Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait (details), 2006, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa ©Anna Lena films/Palomar Pictures

Organized by the National Gallery of Canada

April 2 — June 19, 2011

Supported by:         Supported by:

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