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Giant Muhammad Ali art installation to be unveiled at L.A. Live

February 28, 2011 | 10:39 am


Starting in late March, concert-goers, pedestrians and other visitors to the L.A. Live complex in downtown L.A. will be greeted by a new, large-scale art installation depicting boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The installation, created by artist Michael Kalish, consists of approximately 1,300 speed bags arranged to create a likeness of the athlete.

The installation, titled "reALIze," stands 26 feet wide, 23 feet high (at its highest point) and 25 feet deep. The art work is scheduled to be unveiled March 25 at Nokia Plaza at L.A. Live and will remain on view through April 9. It will be free to view for the public, but visitors won't be allowed to touch it or interact with it. Organizers are hoping that the installation will travel to other cities later this year, but additional venues haven't been announced.

Kalish, whose studio is located in Culver City, said in an interview that the idea for the sculpture was born from a correspondence with Ali's wife, Yolanda, who had expressed her admiration for the artist's past work that used license plates as a sculptural medium. The artist created a piece for the Ali family, and their relationship eventually led to the new art installation.

The artist said he based his new work on an image of Ali taken by British photographer Michael Brennan during the late 1970s at Deer Lake, Penn. To design the work, the artist teamed up with the L.A. architecture firm Oyler Wu Collaborative, which assisted in the modeling of the installation.

Ali2Kalish said the project took three to four months of design time and then an additional five months of construction that took place in Gardena. 

The completed project features a metal frame structure, five miles of stainless steel cables and about 1300 speed bags.

The artist said that the installation cost "hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars." He said that the Ali family didn't contribute money to the project and that it was self-funded. Organizers said that the artwork is part of an agreement signed between Kalish and Muhammad Ali Enterprises, which oversees all licensing deals involving Ali.

On choosing to unveil the project at L.A. Live, Kalish, 38, said that he also had considered New York's Rockefeller Center and Central Park. "Being an L.A. artist I wanted it to be unveiled here," he said.


Custom plates, from the DMV to the art gallery

-- David Ng

Photos (top): "reALIze." Credit: Jon Davis

(bottom): Michael Kalish. Credit: Jon Davis

Comments () | Archives (12)

An amazing piece by an amazing artist. Cant wait to see it!

Wait a minute...what about Pacman too Mr. Kalish????

Great work. Can't wait to see it.

Ali still inspires people of all ages! I was fortunate enough to me Muhammad a few years ago. The event was called the 'Rumble Replay', which celebrated his 65th Birthday. It was a thrill and an honor to meet 'The greatest of all time".

This is another great work from Oyler Wu Collaborative beside the Live Wire, and Pendulum Plane! The work totally has it character! Amazing!

First thought this was a pic by the great French artist, JR, who's currently gracing LA with his works.

Hello? Hello?? Anybody in the Times Arts & Entertainment Bunch gonna take notice? I know, it's in the Photography thingie, which is so complicated I can't figure out how to sign on to it.


That's a real cool piece. We should get something permanent to honor one of our great CA boxers like De La Hoya or Mosley.

I think anyone who knows about the Historical Significance of the Rumble in the Jungle, or the great years Ali had as a fighter will really appreciate this! He is the Greatest, but you have to remember, he is a fighter. So to me this work stands for Taking a Stand, and really believing in something, even if you have if fight for it.

To keep people away, they are going to have to build some serious fences around this piece. Which is unfortunate.

Very cool! Maybe LA isn't so bad after all.

Michael's work is very interesting, to arrange 1300 bags like that, very original, specially because of the fleeting quality of the artwork, not static neither rigid, but surrounded by the unpredictable winds of life, just as we are


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