Poster, poster size 36 1/4" x 24 3/8".
Small Poster Size 24" X 16"
In this special print, the undisputed champion of the art of sports pays
homage to Muhammad Ali, frequently cited as the one of the most
widely-recognized people throughout the world, admired and respected for his
accomplishments in the boxing ring and beyond.
Throughout his long career, LeRoy Neiman has painted dozens of sports
legends including Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and
even Secretariat. In the featured serigraph the artist not only adds
Muhammad Ali to this illustrious list, but places him first with the
designation, Athlete of the Century.
The serigraph derives from the artist's recent larger-than-life oil
painting of Ali, based on sketches made in 1964. This was the transition
period when then Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. It was also
the time of Ali's two historic fights with Sonny Liston in which he first
took the heavyweight championship from Liston, and then defended his title
in a decisive first-round knock out. This is Ali as he looked at the age of
22, a new champion just coming into his prime. The print bursts with color
and vitality and brings to life the Ali who, as was frequently said, "floats
like a butterfly and stings like a bee."
Neiman recalls that his association with Muhammad Ali dates back to
1962. The artist met the fighter in the dressing room in the St. Nicholas
Arena in New York City, before Clay defeated Billy Daniels. Neiman sketched
the young heavyweight sitting on the rubbing table. Clay immediately showed
his own interest in art by asking to make a drawing of himself at the bottom
of Neiman's drawing. This was the beginning of a long relationship between
the artist and the prize fighter. The artist frequently sketched and painted
the athlete in training and at his major bouts around the world, constantly
sketching, drawing and painting. Ali often took up the brush himself, and
did a number of prediction drawings for Neiman before big fights.
Neiman says, "All of my experiences and observations of Ali are
summed up in this portrait. This painting is for me the quintessential,
colorful, confident Ali. It shows his fighting face, with that theatrical
flair, that is so familiar to the world and epitomizes a career that
extended to a public far beyond the boxing ring. He was fast with his
rhetoric and swift with his fists, and the intent of the painting and print
is to emphasize his boundless energy."
With its combination of a great artist and a great athlete, this
serigraph is destined to be one of the artist's most significant works.
"Muhammad Ali - Athlete of the Century" will be treasured by Neiman
collectors and everyone who admires champions.