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Signed Print Edition of 150
H 102cm x W 76cm
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Toni Clayton, American Pop & Modern Specialist
Andy Warhol’s 1978 image Muhammad Ali (F. & S. II.179) depicts the internationally famous boxer, orator, and activist Muhammad Ali in profile. Warhol uses his characteristic medium of screen printed photographs with the addition of overdrawing and colour blocking. Here, the artist had covered the top of the boxer’s head in the coral pink of the background, then drawn in the outline of his hair.
This print comes from the larger series Muhammad Ali produced by Warhol and commissioned by Richard Weisman. Warhol depicted Ali among other athletes including Jack Nicklaus and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most continuously recognizable of the athletes, was a three-time world champion heavyweight boxer at the time these images were taken. Warhol took the photos himself on a polaroid camera. Although Warhol was at first uninterested in sports, he came to recognize the celebrity of athletes, stating “I really got to love the athletes because they are the really big stars.” This growing interest in athletes evokes the shifting nature of celebrity overtime. These images clearly descend from his images of icons like Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergman nearly two decades earlier, but represent a shift in popular culture.