“Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was one of the greatest boxers of all time. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, he was a three-time heavyweight champion and a courageous, popular, and polarizing public figure. He captured the world’s attention with his provocative style, bold statements, and strong political and religious convictions.
This exhibition explores Muhammad Ali’s legendary career through the unique artistic lens of his friend, the noted painter LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012). They shared a love of boxing, the limelight, and breaking with convention. Neiman, renowned for documenting American sports and leisure life, captured Ali in vivid watercolors and intimate, on-the-spot sketches. He also taught and encouraged Ali to draw.” — Introductory Wall Text
“I’ll tell you how I’d like to be remembered: as a black man who won the heavyweight title and who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him and who helped as many of his people as he could—financial and also in their fight for freedom, justice, and equality. As a man who wouldn’t embarrass them. As a man who tried to unite his people through the faith of Islam that he found when he listened to the honorable Elijah Muhammad. And if all that’s asking too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxing champion who became a preacher and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.” — Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali, LeRoy Neiman, and the Art of Boxing, with works on loan from the LeRoy Neiman Foundation, was curated by Lily Wong, research associate at the New-York Historical Society.