What Memes Owe to Art History
Title: Muhammad Ali Complete Portfolio (FS II.179-182)
Medium: Screenprint on Strathmore Bristol paper.
Size: 40″ x 30″
Edition: Edition of 150.
Andy Warhol created four screenprints about the great boxer Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali FS II179-182 Full Suite, are a set of four screenprints are part of Andy Warhol’s larger body of work relating to his depictions of celebrity life and culture. The screenprints are based on Polaroids taken of the famous boxer, and Muhammad Ali did not want Andy Warhol to photograph or make screenprints of him. Funnily enough, Ali owns a complete suite of the series himself. Full suites are extremely rare to come by.
Warhol met Ali in 1977 while working on a photographic series based on celebrity ‘Athletes’. The project was initiated by the sports enthusiast and art collector Richard Weisman. The color screenprint portfolio soon followed. In 1978, Warhol photographed Muhammed Ali for his Athletes series. Richard Weisman, who was both an art collector and a sports enthusiast, initiated the project, which included athletes like soccer player, Pelé, and golfer, Jack Nicklaus. Even though Warhol wasn’t a fan of sports himself, he did see an interest in the realm of an athlete’s celebrity and fame. Ali proved to be a difficult subject, but Warhol managed to snap a few photos of him during a marathon session. For Ali, the image of his fist symbolizes his success, his identity and his celebrity. Although Warhol wasn’t a sports enthusiast, he was fascinated by the fame that athletes like Ali had acquired. He recalled: “I really got to love the athletes because they are the really big stars".
Signature: Signed and numbered on lower right.
Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art—he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.
American, 1928-1987, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York
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