LeRoy Neiman was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1921 and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois – an American icon as far as impressionists go. His vivid paintings of sporting events and people at leisure are some of the most recognized pieces of art in the United States.
Neiman served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a cook. That is where his art skills were recognized and put to use painting sets for Red Cross shows. Following his return home in 1946 he studied at the St. Paul School of Art, then at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on the G.I. Bill. After graduating he served on the Art Institute faculty for ten years. During that time he became associated with Playboy Magazine where he met Hugh Hefner. Hefner commissioned an illustration for the magazine’s fifth edition and became a regular contributor for the next fifty years.
Beginning in 1960 Neiman traveled the world observing and painting Olympics, the Super Bowl, World Series, Kentucky Derby, PGA and just about every sports figure; also nightlife, entertainment and the world of casino gambling. He received five honorary doctorates and numerous awards, a Lifetime Achievement award from the University of Southern California and the LeRoy Neiman Campus Center at his Alma Mater, the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian, the Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the State Hermitage Museum in Russia and galleries all over the world as well as in private and corporate collections.
In his later years, Neiman continued to paint despite having his right leg amputated as a result of a vascular problem. He died in 2012 at the age of 91 in New York City.
19th, 20th & 21st Century American Paintings