Global icon Muhammad Ali was ahead of the curve and larger than life. He looms large in Morgan O'Driscoll's Irish and International online art auction which runs until October 27. A portfolio of four screenprints of Ali by Andy Warhol is, at €200,000-€300,000, the most expensively estimated lot in the sale.
Long before Black Lives Matter, when Mississippi was burning, Ali embarked on a search for a more just society.
His questioning, talented and interesting character made him a fascinating study for a portrait.
Warhol conveys a strong sense of his persona using face, arms and clenched fists. Ali was 37 at the time, an icon of the game. One of the portraits shows him looking down, as if in humility.
In a note to the catalogue Peter Murray, the former Crawford Gallery curator, recounts how in 1977 Warhol was commissioned by Richard Weisman to paint silkscreen portraits of ten famous athletes. The resulting prints, titled Athletes, are among the artist’s best-known works.
Warhol took polaroid photographs of the boxer in fighting poses and at rest. The resulting images transferred to canvas using acrylic and silkscreen ink transformed into art that was instantly popular amongst art collectors and the public.
The paintings were produced in a limited edition of eight, while the subsequent print edition, of which this is one, was limited to 150.
It is just one of a number of treasures, Irish and international, in an auction of 179 lots on view by appointment in Skibbereen today and tomorrow and at Morgan O'Driscoll's Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin offices from October 23-26.
Lot 21, Harry Kernoff's treatment of a landscape in Connemara (€20,000-€30,000), could not be more different than the paintings of Paul Henry, illustrated elsewhere on these pages.
Banksy'sfrom 2007 is a send-up of the art auction business estimated at €20,000-€30,000. Sean Scully's has an estimate of €80,000-€120,000 and Hughie O'Donoghue's , 1995, (€30,000-€50,000) is positively scorching.
An original gouache by Bridget Riley is estimated at €100,000-€150,000 while a 2019 papercut portfolio by Ai Weiwei has an estimate of €14,000-€18,000.
This is a serious sale, which will be of huge interest to collectors in Ireland and abroad. Through viewings in London and New York in pre-pandemic times Morgan O'Driscoll has built up a following for his major sales that has a long international reach. In the process, he has given Irish art and artists a welcome shot in the arm.