Stephen Holland says, “I like the drama of Sports the way you see it on a TV closeup – like a slow-motion replay. I like to freeze-frame the image and display it in everyone’s living room.” Capturing the fury, emotion, and drama of sports is what Stephen Holland does best. Being trained in fine art, he brings classical form to this universal subject. His paintings, lithographs, and serigraphs are in private and corporate collections worldwide, including the Staples Center Downtown Los Angeles.
Although Holland has painted hundreds of sports paintings for commissions, lithographs, serigraphs, and commercial ventures, he is best known for his magnificent portrait of the World’s Greatest Athlete “Muhammad Ali”. Originally painted for the Silver Anniversary of the Victor Awards (honoring Ali as “Athlete of the Century”), the painting was soon selected by Ali’s wife as the image to represent him for his 50th birthday party. Giant posters of the painting flanked the landmark Wiltern Theatre in Hollywood, as thousands attended Ali’s televised tribute. A limited-edition, fine art lithograph has been issued, each numbered and signed by Muhammed Ali and Stephen Holland.
What is it that first attracted Holland to painting sports? As a young painter, unable to afford live models, he drew from boxing magazines. There he saw the male form in all its power and glory, expressed as a contemporary gladiator. Reading the articles in the magazines conveyed to him the determination and hard work that any athlete must have to be a winner. Holland found it an inspiration to himself as an artist to put as much discipline, devotion, and determination into his work, to express what both he and the athlete experience. None of this came easy for Holland.
As a child, he was disabled and had to watch his family and friends play sports, while the steel brace he wore on his leg even prevented him from attending a regular school. But handicaps often heighten one’s sensitivity, and talents may develop elsewhere. So Stephen Holland sat and sketched his friends. Though his mother used to say he began drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil, his talent blossomed while attending a specialized high school that devoted half of every day to art studies—following that he participated at the Art Students League, The School of Visual Arts, and Pratt Institute, all in New York City.
His talent and contribution to art and sports received national recognition last year when the American Sport Art Museum and Archives awarded him the honor of 1993 Sports Artist of the Year. Today Stephen Holland lives with his wife Nelle in their home/studio in Southern California.