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Rosalyn Drexler's Death of Benny "Kid" Paret, 1936

January 18, 2017

Image: Rosalyn Drexler (American, born 1926). Death of Benny "Kid" Paret, 1936. Acrylic and paper collage on canvas board, 14 x 18 inches (35.6 x 45.7 cm). Beth Rudin DeWoody. © 2016 Rosalyn Drexler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

On the occasion of Rosalyn Drexler: Who Does She Think She Is?, we are taking a closer look at several of the works in the exhibition. This week: Death of Benny "Kid" Paret, 1936.

Following her own early participation in wrestling, Rosalyn Drexler returned to the figure of the boxer over the course of several decades. Her fighters in the ring are inextricably tied to the men and women outside of it who fight—and embrace—with force. “There is nothing romantic or artful about boxing,” the artist has commented. “It is ugly and brutal."

The six vignettes in Death of Benny "Kid" Paret depict the final, vicious punches of Emile Griffith’s 12-round knockout of the boxer Benny “The Kid” Paret, who died from injuries sustained during the fight. Drexler, like many others, watched the live-broadcast event on her home television, and her curved, numbered panels evoke the screen on which this deadly spectacle unfolded as mass entertainment.