LeRoy Neiman’s (1921-2012) facial hair is as iconic as his paintings, his handlebar moustache sweeping across his cheeks in a passionate display of curves like two bold brushstrokes. Known for his vividly colored impressionist paintings, Neiman the artist would ultimately be as well- recognized as his work, becoming a visible figure in the oftentimes private industry of the visual arts. As a highly regarded painter of sporting events, Neiman was asked to appear in four of the famed “Rocky” films by director and actor Sylvester Stallone, thus ushering him into the public eye.
Neiman’s work spans a gamut as wide as his moustache, his work including brightly colored paintings of fierce animals from the African safari, images of jazz musicians as expressive as the music they produced, and novel presidential portraits. It was his journalistic depictions of sporting events, though, that will continue to be looked upon as some of his best works. In these pieces, his strokes of paint have as much motion as the athletes represented themselves, his brightly hued paint selections mirroring the intensity and climactic nature of the moment. Bodies contorted in action and faces full of steady determination and aggressive grimaces, Neiman demonstrated a unique comprehension of the emotion and physicality of sporting games.
Born in Minnesota, Neiman served in WWII, fighting in the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge before returning to the Home Front and attending the School of the Art Institute in Chicago on the G.I. Bill. There, he would teach for ten years before gaining notoriety for his work as a contributing artist in Playboy during the 50s, which published his ongoing series entitled “Man of His Leisure,” depicting sporting events and social activities.
Fitting with his public personality, Neiman’s official website illustrates him as someone interested in crafting an image as an artist in addition to crafting art itself: “I guess I created LeRoy Neiman,” he concluded. “Nobody else told me how to do it. Well, I’m a believer in the theory that the artist is as important as his work” (Source).
For more information on LeRoy Neiman’s impressionist paintings, please watch Ackerman Fine Art’s brief video on the artist below:
Ackerman’s Fine Art, is actively purchasing works of Leroy Neiman. Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.