Muhammad Ali - Athlete of Century Hand Signed by LeRoy Neiman With Black Borders
21.5 x 32.5 in.
Signed by the Artist
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about this piece
LeRoy Neiman, 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 energ'.
With its combination of a great artist and a great athlete, this reproduction 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.
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