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Super inspiring for an artist such as myself...
In 1977, Richard Weisman, an art collector and a friend of Warhol’s, commissioned a series of paintings of ten great sports figures of the era, now known as the “Athlete Series”. The group of athletes was selected by Mr. Weisman, and included stars of a variety of sports: Muhammad Ali (boxing), Pelé (soccer), Dorothy Hamill (figure skating), Tom Seaver (baseball), Jack Nicklaus (golf), O.J. Simpson (football), Chris Evert (tennis), Willie Shoemaker (horse racing), Rod Gilbert (ice hockey, NY Rangers), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball).
Four additional sports portraits taken later are also included in the show – Ron Duguay, John McEnroe (with then-wife Tatum O’Neill), Vitas Gerulaitis, and Wayne Gretzky.
While Warhol may not have selected the ten athletes for the series, their status as champions in their respective sports, with faces and names that are recognizable decades later, coincides with Warhol’s interest in images of celebrity and greatness.
Taken with Warhol’s favored “Big Shot” Polaroid Camera, these images were used by Warhol to be silkscreened on to canvas as the basis of each painting.