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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Local Art Gallery Celebrates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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Happy Birthday, Kareem!

Sixty-seven years ago today, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born. Most people know the star for his prowess on the basketball court; fewer people know him from the paintings and screenprints of his likeness completed by Andy Warhol circa 1977.

 The famed Abdul-Jabbar screeenprint is a part of a portfolio of ten Warhol works- all of famous athletes. These works, paintings in their original form, were commissioned by Warhol’s friend and art collector Richard Weisman; this commission, most commonly known today as “The Athletes Series,” also featured images of Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, and more. Warhol met each of the sports players (sometimes in their own homes), took polaroids of each of them, and then transformed those photographs into paintings and silkscreens. The image of Kareem is the only time in Warhol’s life that he created an image of a basketball player.

 The series may came as a surprise to some, even Weisman himself (who is renowned for saying that Warhol did not know the “difference between a golf ball and a football”). However, it clearly reflects a common theme in Warhol’s works – capturing superstars in their elements. This may have been especially poignant in the 1970’s when, as Warhol said, “athletes [were] the really big stars.”

For more information about this work, or other Warhol works in Long-Sharp Gallery’s inventory, please email Rhonda Long-Sharp at rhonda@longsharpgallery.com 

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