If you’re making a monument to the Greatest, it better be really great. So for his portrait of three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, artist Michael Kalish went big, using 1,300 punching bags, 6.5 miles of stainless steel cable, and 2,500 pounds of aluminum pipe to construct a 22-foot-high installation that took three years to complete.
The idea for the project came to Kalish as he was falling asleep one night in 2008: an array of custom-made, teardrop-shaped speed bags suspended in midair that, from just one vantage point, align themselves like pixels into an image of Ali’s face. But the LA-based artist, best known for crafting portraits of American icons out of license plates and other found objects—he counts Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger among his collectors—knew he couldn’t construct such a large-scale installation on his own. So he retained architectural firm Oyler Wu to design the structure in which the bags are suspended. (At the unveiling ceremony, Ali will hang the final bag.)
With its interlocking legs and curving pipes, the resultant work, slated to go on view in March at LA’s Nokia Plaza, looks “effortlessly simple” and has a subtle shine, architect Jenny Wu says. As you walk around the sculpture, you’ll just see interesting hanging bags. Step directly in front, however, and pow! Ali’s visage hits you like a punch in the face.
(Editors Note: This article is republished from wired.com. Article by Rachel Somerstein, and photos by Jon Davis. To see original article visit http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/02/pl_art_kalish/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Fculture+%28Wired%3A+Culture%29&pid=4751)