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Arts & Culture

Andy Warhol's Athlete Series Comes to SAMA

A new exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art is emblematic of another era -- an era before athletes were the superheroes they are now. That new Andy Warhol exhibit starts with a man named Richard Weisman, who said he was a very close friend of iconic artist.

Weisman is a perceptive man and in the late 70s he figured this out:

“The world of art and the world of sports don’t necessarily mix that well,” he said.

But he thought they could, so Weisman commissioned Warhol to create portraits of some of sports’ biggest stars. While Warhol was to pop art what the Beatles were to rock 'n' roll, he knew nothing of sports.

"He didn’t know the difference between a hockey puck and a football" Weisman said. "I was therefore nominated to be the one to pick out the athletes."

So he picked Muhammed Ali, Dorothy Hammill, OJ Simpson, Jack Nicklaus, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and others. First, pictures were taken of them, then Warhol did his magic, said Weisman.

"Sometimes he would screen a canvas with an image, and then paint over it, and sometimes he would paint and screen over the paint."

In pre-Photoshop days, art was hand-crafted and a huge effort.

"I think that made it so much nicer" Weisman said.  "It really came from Warhol."

Weisman has brought ten of the pieces of art to the San Antonio Museum of Art. He will be giving a talk about Warhol at SAMA at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21. Weisman was there for the glory days of Warhol’s factory in New York, and of course, for the creation of these portraits so he has many stories to tell.

"There’s stories with each athlete, let me tell you," he said.