Andy Warhol, ‘Muhammad Ali (FS II.181)’, 1978, Revolver Gallery

Warhol photographed Muhammad Ali for his Athletes series in 1978. Part of a portfolio of four, this screenprint focuses on Ali’s powerful fist. Echoing the color of a boxing glove or maybe even the blood of an opponent, Warhol applies a ruddy red to the clenched fist and highlights it with a splash of turquoise.

Series: Muhammad Ali 181 by Andy Warhol is an iconic screenprint which was created as part of his Athletes series from the 1970s. In 1978, Warhol photographed Muhammad Ali for his aforementioned 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. He recalled: “I really got to love the athletes because they are the really big stars.” Ali proved to be a difficult subject, but Warhol managed to snap a few photos of him during a marathon session. Ali’s fist not only symbolizes his strength as an athlete, but more implicitly symbolizes his identity and his life force.

Signature: Signed and numbered by Andy Warhol

About Andy Warhol

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