Alison Jacques Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Gordon Parks x Muhammad Ali: The Image of a Champion, 1966 | 1970 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.
The exhibition examines the relationship Parks developed with Ali through two iconic Life magazine assignments. Ali had become an international celebrity after winning a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and was photographed by Parks at the height of his success.
Parks accompanied Ali when he visited London in 1966 for his historic match with UK champion Henry Cooper, who unsuccessfully challenged Ali for the world heavyweight title. The brash young boxing star, who at the time was a controversial figure in the US, was presented by Parks in an unexpected light, as a humble and dedicated athlete. Four years later, in 1970, Parks profiled Ali again as he was training in Miami, preparing to win back his world heavyweight title from Joe Frazier. Crafting a powerful psychological portrait, these photographs helped to shift public opinion and contributed to redefining Ali's career.
Despite their generational and ideological differences, Parks and Ali respected and admired one another. As celebrated public figures, both men shared a common struggle, facing prejudice in their fight for social justice and civil rights. Similarly, both men understood the power of the media to shape public opinion. Parks' position at Life gave him a vast and influential platform, which he used to create a sympathetic portrayal of Ali.
This exhibition is organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation. In Kansas City, the exhibition is supported by the Hall Family Foundation and Elizabeth and James E. C. Tinsman.
The show will be accompanied by the publication Gordon Parks X Muhammad Ali, published in collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation and printed by Steidl.
For further information on Gordon Parks, click here.