Leroy Neiman, 1927 -
Leroy Neiman was born of Turkish and Swedish descent on June 8, 1927. He took the surname of one of his stepfathers. He grew up in a St Paul, Minnesota neighborhood where he earned money from local grocers by painting calcimine images of fruit, vegetables and meat as sales items. As a high school student, he created posters for school dances and athletic events. In 1942, Neiman quit high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army. While serving as a cook he painted murals in military kitchens and dining halls. He also painted stage sets for Red Cross shows.
NeimanŐs art was influenced by the "spirit" of Da Vinci and Rubens, the "space" of Tintoretto, and Fragonard for "feel". He was greatly influenced by the abstract expressionist, especially Jackson Pollack, one of the first to experiment with serigraphs.
He was awarded first prize in the Twin City show for an oil, Idle Boats, in 1953. He had his first solo shows were in galleries in Chicago and Lincoln, Illinois that very same year. In 1957, one of his paintings was included in the "American 25th Biennial Exhibition". For 15 years starting in 1958, he was a contributing artist and writer for "Man at His Leisure" in Playboy magazine. In 1961 he won a gold medal at the Salon d"Art Moderne, in Paris. He has had solo exhibits at Minnesota Museum of Arts, St. Paul; University of Texas, El Paso; Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Ireland; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela; and the New State Tretyakov Museum in Moscow. In 1981 he and Andy Warhol had a two man exhibition at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. He is in the permanent collection of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The majority of NeimanŐs body of work deals with sports: golf, basketball, boxing, billiards, hockey, football, baseball gymnastics, swimming, cycling, bullfights, boxing, auto racing, polo, ballet, sailing (Americas Cup), chess (Fisher and Spassky Championship, 1972) and The Olympic Games (1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal, 1980 Lake Placid, 1984 Sarajevo and Los Angeles).
NeimanŐs use of vivid tones evokes a phenomenon of change. Up close, his paintings are more abstract. From far way, they become more realistic. He does this with fast moving strokes which gives the impression of fast moving action. His use of vivid color electrifies his paintings.
Each year for the past quarter century, he has produced eight limited edition serigraphs per year. By his own account he is a workaholic, taking no vacations and having no hobbies. He lives with his wife in a double high studio in the Hotel des Artistes, a landmark in New York City.
Through the years he has donated scores of his artwork to charitable organizations and in 1995 he gave the School of the Arts at Columbia University a gift of 6 million to create the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies.