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Sports Painter LeRoy Neiman Dead at 91

Yesterday the incredibly popular but critically ignored New York-based painter LeRoy Neiman died at a Manhattan hospital of as yet unknown causes, his literary publicist confirmed to ARTINFO this morning. He was 91. He had previously been hospitalized in 2010 for a vascular problem that eventually required his leg to be amputated.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1921, Neiman became a widely adored artist in the vein of Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade, though his specialty was not quaint Americana, but the dynamism of momentous sporting events like the Olympic Games and the Superbowl, and the pomp of social spectacles such as the Cannes Film Festival. He rendered such scenes in a painting style that blended the Impressionistic nightlife imagery of Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec, with the bold Fauvist hues of Matisse, all rendered with brash, gestrual brushstrokes. Neiman was also a frequent contributor to Playboy magazine after a chance encounter with Hugh Heffner in 1953.

These events and more are recounted in his autobiography, “All Told: My Art and Life Among Athletes, Playboys, Bunnies, and Provocateurs,” which was only just published by Lyons Press on June 5. Before dying he promised his archives to Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institute. During his lifetime he donated $6 million to create the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University, and gave $3 million to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied and later taught for 10 years.

“It’s been fun. I’ve had a lucky life,” Neiman said in an interview in 2008. “I’ve zeroed in on what you would call action and excellence.”

Source: Art Info


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