Ernie Barnes (b 1939) was a Neo-mannerist master painter, professional football player and major cultural ambassador of African American life in the deep south during the Civil Rights Era. In this way, he was and remains a true contemporary 'Renaissance Man' in every aspect of the term.
Works such as the Winning Shot (1970) and Main Street Pool Hall (1978) by Barnes are exemplaryof his iconic series off pool-hall paintings. While Jim Crow laws prevented Barnes from entering museums in his native North Carolina, the artist pursued his love of art through books, familiarizing himself with the work of Michelangelo, Delacroix, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Barnes studied art at North Carolina Central University, which would launch a five-decade career and love affair with painting. The artist would create seven album covers for the likes of B.B. King, Curtis Mayfield and one of the most recognizable album covers of all-time, the imagery of Marvin Gaye's seminal "I Want You." Barnes' work is also synonymous with the famous sitcom Good Times, which features his paintings throughout different episodes and subsequently as the backdrop for the credits.