Lew Alcindor, basketball player, 61st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, New York, May 2, 1963 Richard Avedon’s black and white photograph shows Lew Alcindor, a high school basketball star, as self-confident and physically powerful. Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, went on to become the National Basketball Association’s leading scorer and winner of six championships.
This photograph embodies the stories of two superstars—artist and athlete—in their own professions, and addresses an era that embraced the civil rights movement, fashion photography, and the idea of sports star as superhero.
Search Mia’s website to find artworks related to sports or your favorite sport. Simply type your search word (eg. football, baseball, tennis) into the search box!
Fashion in Action
Search magazines or sports Web sites or www.nba.com for photographs of athletes that appear to be influenced by contemporary fashion photography. Search fashion Web sites for images you think are influenced by sports photography. Select an example of each to compare and contrast in a written essay or multi-media presentation.
Take a Shot
Create a photograph of a friend, family member, or team member that shows viewers something about that person’s personality, interests, or strengths. Collaborate with your classmates to create a photo exhibition in your classroom, or online for the world to see.
Learn About a Local Photographer
Explore photographer Wing Young Huie’s Web site to learn how many of his photographic projects document the socioeconomic and cultural realities of American society, much of it centered on the urban cores of his home state of Minnesota.
Visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art for a discussion-based tour on just about any topic, including sports or fashion. Click here to get a tour request form.
Honor the Harlem Renaissance!
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar created a documentary, “On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Basketball Team You Never Heard Of,” which tells the story of the Harlem Rens team. Research the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, a period of intense literary, musical, and intellectual creativity associated with Harlem, a predominately African American neighborhood in New York City. In small groups, develop an outline and storyboards for a documentary about an individual or group of people (e.g., writers, artists, athletes) who were part of the Harlem Renaissance.
Compare and Contrast
Click here to view a video showing Lew Alcindor and other members of the 1963 All-American High School Basketball Team in a television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in March 1963, about two months before the photograph was taken. In writing or conversation compare and contrast Alcindor’s appearance on television with the way Avedon presented him in the photograph.