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In this work, Gary Simmons combines vintage fight posters with a semi-erased slogan for Miller High Life brand beer. Simmons has used the concept and visual technique of erasure in his works since the late 1980s in order to explore issues surrounding race, class, and history. “Taste the High Life,” while referring to marketing for the Miller beer, also encourages the viewer to think about luxury and extravagance, ideas perhaps at odds with the sport of boxing. Highlife is also a style of urban music associated with upper-class dance parties that developed in Ghana, West Africa in the early 1900s. The streaking of the words as they begin to be erased hints at the blending of cultures or the disappearance of a way of life.

Bobby Hinds, whose name appears on the top of the boxing bill, became a golden gloves champion in 1949 at the age of thirteen. In 1977 he invented a portable gym system made of resistance bands that made him a celebrated fitness guru. His image was even on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box.

Details

  • Title: High Life
  • Creator: Gary Simmons
  • Creator Birth Place: New York, New York
  • Date Created: 2013
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: 49 1/8 x 42 1/2 inches (124.8 x 108 cm)
  • Type: Drawing
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © Gary Simmons
  • Medium: Enamel and charcoal on paper
  • Art Form: Drawing
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Gift of Blake Byrne. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

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