Thursday, June 21, 2012

Expressionistic illustrator Leroy Neiman dies at 91-years of age.

Artist Leroy Neiman was the the kind of guy who inadvertently would put himself at the right place at exactly the right time ultimately achieving both fame, fortune and a cadre of  influential buyers and admirers. In 1954 Leroy Neiman bumped into a guy named Hugh Hefner when they when he was commissioned to do do some fashion illustrations for a department store where Hefner was working as a writer. The two eventually collaborated for 1/2-a-century. - [Link]

Neiman was quite industrious and he painted what he loved, usually prominent sporting events, landscapes and of course imaginary girls for Playboy. Andy Warhol knew who Neiman was as early as the mid-50's and when he discovered that Leroy Neiman in early 60's was selling prints and lithographs of his work for $200 to $1,000 each, Andy said: "I want to be as successful as Leroy Neiman." - [Link]

So if Andy Warhol was inspired by Leroy Neiman, who inspired Leroy Neiman? Neiman, when interviewed, said it was Willem De-Kooning and Jackson Pollock; (look then up especially Willem de Kooning), that really inspired him to paint the way he does.

Leroy Neiman had many influential friends including Hugh Hefner, Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson, Sonny Liston and Jack Nicklaus. Though he left behind no children he was quite a generous and sponsored several child related organizations.

From Wikipedia:

"... Neiman sponsored and supported several organizations from coast to coast that foster art activities for underprivileged children such as The LeRoy Neiman Center for Youth in San Francisco and the Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center in Harlem. He also has established the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University in New York and scholarships at his Alma Mater, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. ..."
I only like Neiman's sketches. Every year when I travel to San Francisco to do my favorite open water race I check out his work at a local gallery nearby. Though I find his paintings to "splashy", over-saturated with colors that you would never find in nature, I do admire how he can take a sporting event and give it a personality that transcends a photograph.

CNN features a gallery and an obituary:  [Link]

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