Long-Sharp Gallery (Indianapolis/New York) is honored to exhibit for the seventh consecutive year at Masterpiece London. The gallery continues this year with its presentation of works by American Pop artists and offers over two dozen works on paper by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Over fifteen of the pieces, be they drawings, unique screenprints, or rare editioned works, are new to the market – meaning, these works have never before been exhibited, at least not since the death of each respective artist. The works’ status stems from the origin of the works themselves: they originated with each artist’s estate and were purchased there by Long-Sharp Gallery. Gallery owner Rhonda Long-Sharp reserves artwork such as this for Masterpiece London because “this is the type of fair that is befitting of works of this caliber.” The exhibit is rounded off by works from Mel Bochner and Sam Francis.
One focus of Long-Sharp Gallery’s presentation is over a dozen drawings and works on paper from the 1950’s or, as is oft-described, “Warhol before Pop.” This body of work, now the subject of an exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, is fast gaining recognition as one of great significance in Warhol’s oeuvre. These drawings have not been exhibited since the artist’s death and have a provenance of his estate.
A later work at the booth’s front is a rare proof by Andy Warhol of Muhammed Ali. This was part of Warhol’s “Athlete’s series” in which he was commissioned to create portraits of ten famous athletes. As a part of this series, Warhol and Ali met in 1977 at Ali’s training camp called “Fighter’s Heaven.” Warhol presumably knew little to nothing of sports, and even less about boxing. Warhol took photos of Ali. According to Victor Bockris, an author who was working with Warhol and present at this meeting, Warhol had difficulty getting photographs of Ali because of Ali’s verbal commentary of what was happening. Subsequently, Warhol asked Ali to please be silent during a few photos. According to Bockris, “Nobody had ever told the Champ to shut his famous mouth in quite such a not-to-be trifled with way.” The room fell silent. Warhol later wrote that he thought Ali was about to punch him. Instead, the Champ smiled, apologized, and struck a series of boxing poses which serve as the basis for the Athlete Series. Warhol said later that Ali “has the most beautiful voice, the most beautiful hands, and the most beautiful face. And he can use all three at the same time. That’s why people will listen to him.”
A third, central wall in Long-Sharp Gallery’s stand is comprised of three complex prints by Roy Lichtenstein which have never been offered for sale – created from 1970-1996. These fresh to the market prints – in the condition like that when they were made - individually and collectively illustrate the complexities of the artist and his work spanning over a decade.
Masterpiece London takes place on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital from June 28 to July 4. The preview takes place on June 27.