LeRoy Neiman (American, June 8, 1921–June 20, 2012) was an American Impressionist artist whose vivid paintings of sporting events and people at leisure are some of the most recognized pieces of art in the United States.
Neiman was educated at a Catholic primary school in Saint Paul, MN. He constantly drew, entered art contests, and produced posters for school events. When war raged in 1942, Neiman dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army. He put his talents to use by painting murals in mess halls. His works compared enlisted men to officers, and this interest in social structure was an inspiration for many future paintings. Neiman’s professional influences include a variety of Impressionists, Fauvists, and Expressionists. The influence of Jackson Pollock is obvious, due to Neiman’s use of the action painting style.
His first painting using this technique was Idle Boats, which was purchased by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Neiman studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and also taught there for 10 years. Some of the artist’s most successful early exhibits were the Chicago Art Exhibition and Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art’s American 25th Biennial Exhibition.
Neiman was commissioned to produce illustrations and other artwork for Playboy Magazine, his most famous series being Man at His Leisure. Neiman traveled the world painting the best in entertainment events, from English steeplechases to the Cannes Film Festival. Neiman also worked at studios in France and Italy. When he returned to the United States, his first solo gallery exhibition was held at New York’s Hammer Galleries. He has covered five Olympiads, holds four honorary degrees, and wrote nine books, including Horses and Winners. In 1995, the artist endowed Columbia University with the funds to create the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. The artist died on June 20, 2012 in New York.