John Stewart - Photographs London Friday, May 19, 2023 | Phillips
  • ‘‘We worked steadily for three days, mornings only, in a film studio I had rented. Ali always arrived on time, accompanied by friends, handlers and helpers. He was a real trouper and lent himself to all the demands, tricks and manipulations that a photographer pulls out of his bag.’’
    —John Stewart 

    In 1977, British photographer John Stewart (1919-2017) was summoned to Chicago by Muhammad Ali, ‘The Greatest’, to take his portrait. Inspired by 19th-century printing practices, Stewart had become known for making his photographs appear as charcoal drawings. Such a dramatic finishing provided the ideal landscape for the series of portraits that ensued from this stand-out shoot. Reminiscing on his time photographing the legendary boxer, Stewart recalls, ‘You had to be fast, however, because his attention span was very short — a matter of a minute, after which he got bored and restless.’ This powerful, timeless image of Ali’s raised fist speaks for itself as an indelible portrait of a 20th century icon. 

    • Provenance

      Acte2Galerie, Paris, 2007

    • Literature

      John Stewart, Paris: Verlhac, 2008, p. 149, 155, 222



Ali Fist, Chicago

Gelatin silver print, printed 2006, mounted.
120 x 120 cm (47 1/4 x 47 1/4 in.)
Signed by the artist in pencil, titled, dated and numbered 3/5 in ink in another hand on a gallery label affixed to the reverse of the mount.

Full Cataloguing

£12,000 - 18,000 ‡♠

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London Auction 19 May 2023