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Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
Warhol photographed the boxer, Muhammad Ali, in 1977 as part of his 'Athletes' series. The project was initiated by the art collector and sports enthusiast, Richard Weisman, and featured the likes of the footballer, Pelé, and golfer, Jack Nicklaus. At first Warhol was unfamiliar with the sports stars but characteristic of his obsession with fame, he recalled: “I really got to love the athletes because they are the really big stars”. Ali was not an easy subject but Warhol managed to capture a powerful shot with the boxer’s fists poised, ready to punch. In the screenprint reproduced here, prior to printing the image Warhol worked into the surface with paint to create the impression of movement. Ali’s fixed stare mimics the concentration required during a fight.