Andy Warhol - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar



Most people know the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 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. 

This screenprint came in a portfolio of ten 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," featured images of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, and more. Warhol met each of the sports players (sometimes in their own homes), took polaroids of each, 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 come as a surprise to some, even Weisman himself (who is remembered 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."