Ernie Barnes: the overlooked legacy of the athlete turned celebrity artist

The work of the football player who became a painter is finally being celebrated, from his Olympics artwork to his Marvin Gaye album cover Historically noted as the first professional American athlete to become a painter, the artistic legacy of football player Ernie Barnes still remains overlooked. But now, as part of a long overdue survey, his art is on view in Bridget R collection of world flags, in a piece titled The Rhythmic Gymnast from 1984. One of his paintings called neo-mannerist. Barnes with his 1984 Olympics artwork. Photograph: Chan Bush He was ignored by the mainstream art world, said Cooks, the author of a book called his paintings for their albums, including the cover of jazz trumpeter Donald …