Former NFL Champion Malcolm Jenkins Explores the Intersection of Football and Art As An Esteemed Collector
Malcolm Jenkins, a phenomenal presence in football during the 2010s, anchored his reputation as one of the sport’s most formidable defensive players. Throughout his impressive NFL career, he achieved the remarkable victory of winning two Super Bowl championships—one with the New Orleans Saints and another with the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins has also made noteworthy contributions beyond the game as an activist for racial justice, an entrepreneur, a published author, and a philanthropist. More recently, he has ventured into a new realm as an avid art collector after his retirement from football in 2022.
Immersing himself in the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, he found himself captivated by its offerings, which led to the beginning of his journey into art acquisition—a breathtaking Basquiat print titled Hollywood Africans in front of the Chinese Theater with Footprints of Movie Stars (1983/2015), which remains the most valuable piece in his collection.
“I didn’t know much about collecting, but I knew how Basquiat broke down many barriers and created space for the success of many of the Black artists we see today,” Jenkins said in an interview with Artnet News. His influence on the culture continues long after his time. I was excited to kick off my collecting.”
Inspired by this initial purchase, Jenkins expanded his collection, procuring remarkable pieces from talented artists like Ernie Barnes, Khari Turner, and Tavares Strachan. Jenkins later joined forces with fellow players to commission the creation of a significant Hank Willis Thomas sculpture, which garnered attention and left a lasting impression at this year’s Super Bowl held in Arizona.
Most enticed by art from the African Diaspora, Jenkins told Artnet News, “I want my collection to reflect the diversity of styles, mediums, and subjects within the Black experience, showcasing a range of voices and perspectives.” He hopes that his collection helps to celebrate blackness and heighten the art of the African diaspora in meaningful ways.
His favorite piece in his collection so far is former football player’s Ernie Barnes’s 1995 painting Study A for Victory in Overtime. “His work is what sparked my interest in the arts,” said Jenkins.
“I grew up seeing works like The Sugar Shack (1971) as a kid. I loved how he captured the movements and expressions of the Black experience. His scenes always radiated joy and pride in all things uniquely Black. I found his paintings unbelievably familiar. When I found out that he was a player in the NFL prior to his career as a painter, my connection to his work only deepened.”
Next, Jenkins hopes to acquire a work by rising figurative painter Dominic Chambers. “After having a conversation with him, I was blown away by his knowledge and passion for the usage of color. His talent is undeniable and I know he’s a rising star,” he said.
Read the full interview with Malcolm Jenkins by visiting Artnet News.
As an independent magazine with a small team, we rely on the support of our readers to keep JARO’s content free and accessible to everyone. Please support our ability to continue delivering the best of the African Diaspora with a donation as little as $1. Thank you!