Jackson Fine Art is honored to kick off our 2023 programming with Steve Schapiro: Warhol & Ali, an exhibition celebrating the life and work of an artist whose six decades of work produced images as visually moving as they are culturally significant. A masterful observer of the human condition, Schapiro portrays these larger-than-life American icons with the startling intimacy and unique wit characteristic of his work. 

When Schapiro passed in January of 2022, he was at work on his twelfth monograph, the Taschen collection Andy Warhol & Friends, bringing together for the first time some of the most recognizable images of Andy Warhol ever taken. Their collaboration began in 1965, when Warhol had effectively renounced his career as a painter and was in the process of reinventing himself as an avant-garde filmmaker and — perhaps more significantly — a public persona rivaling even the most accomplished of his traditional “art.” Serendipitously, it was Steve who was present to bear witness to the advent of Andy Warhol the character; in addition to capturing a leather-jacketed iconoclast, stony behind dark glasses, the photographer offers us glimpses of the person behind the persona.

This same ability to candidly depict even the most image-conscious of subjects was evident two years prior, when Schapiro traveled to Louisville, Kentucky on assignment from Sports Illustrated to capture the then-Cassius Clay. At 21, the boxer we now know as Muhammad Ali was a star on the rise, and Schapiro’s images offer a glimpse of a community hero — at home with his family, at play with neighborhood kids, and (in a story now mythical) on the day that he first met a 6 ½ year-old Lonnie Williams, the future Mrs. Muhammad Ali.