LeRoy Neiman

(American, 1921 – 2012) 

“The businessman says 'If I don't do it first, somebody else will.' The artist says 'If I don't do it first, nobody else will.'”

-       LeRoy Neiman

The most widely recognized American sports and leisure artist in history, LeRoy Neiman taught us to cherish and memorialize the beauty in a fleeting moment. Often called “The chronicler of the good life,” he painted treasured moments. From yachting on the French Rivera to a winning touchdown, LeRoy not only painted it all but painted it all live. Neiman also gained recognition for creating the cartoon figures Femmy and Femlin, featured in many Playboy issues during the 1950’s.

            Born in 1921 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Neiman had a natural talent for sketching that he was often showing off. In an effort to help his single mother, he was employed by local grocers to paint images of their sale items on their shop windows. After graduating high school, Neiman enlisted in the United States Army and after serving in combat for two years, he served four additional years as a chef in the military kitchen. In order to raise morale, he painted sexually suggestive images of women, what would now be known as pin-up girls, in the dining halls of the kitchen. His paintings were well received by men and women, and after his discharge, he enrolled in figure drawing courses at The Art Institute of Chicago. He was hired at the institute upon graduation, where he taught for ten years.

            Known for his kaleidoscope color pallet, Neiman preferred to paint with a palette knife instead of a traditional brush in order to apply impressionist inspired chunks of color.  He earned a reputation painting live, and was invited to be the official artist of five Olympiads and the official CBS Super Bowl artist. He eventually became a fixture on the sideline of many sporting events, capturing moments with live paint.

            Throughout his lifetime, Neiman was awarded a multitude of awards including the Lifetime achievement award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Award of Merit from the American Athletic Union, and the Gold Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement. His incredible talent to capture the energy of the moment in unique colors has made him a popular acquisition amongst museums and private collectors. Neiman retired from his publisher in 2010, two years before passing away. American Fine Art was fortunate enough to purchase the remaining inventory from his publisher, and is now the ultimate destination for Neiman acquisitions.