LeRoy Neiman (June 8, 1921 – June 20, 2012) was an American artist known for his brilliantly colored, expressionist paintings and screen prints of athletes, musicians, and sporting events. He is probably the most popular living sports artist in the United States. The artistic style of the fabulously successful Neiman is familiar to a remarkably broad spectrum of Americans –"rich and poor, black and white, urban and rural, educated and illiterate," and young and old alike. He was the official artist at five Olympiads. Millions of people have watched him at work: on ABC TV coverage of the Olympics,as CBS Superbowl computer artist, and at other major competitions, televised on location with his sketchbook and drawing materials, producing split-second records and highly developed images of what he is witnessing.
LeRoy Neiman was born on June 8, 1921 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the son of Lydia Sophia (nee Serline) of Braham, Minnesota and Charles Julius Runquist, who were married in 1918, and living at Grasston, Minnesota (Kanabec County). He was Of Turkish and Swedish descent (“as near as I can figure out,” as he has said).His father deserted his family, and when his mother married his stepfather, John L. Niman (Neiman) in 1926, LeRoy changed to the new surname as well. His mother divorced Neiman about 1935, and married for the third time in about 1940, to Ernst G. Hoelscher, of St. Paul. LeRoy was raised in the Macalester-Groveland and Frogtown neighborhoods of St. Paul, early on LeRoy Neiman became a “street kid,” in his words. The home he lived in the longest, from about 1940 to about 1955, still stands at 569 Van Buren Avenue.
He received five honorary doctorates and numerous awards, a recent Lifetime achievement award from the University of Southern California, an induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and proclamations and citations. Most recently he received The Order of Lincoln award (the State's highest honor) on the 200th birthday celebration of Abraham Lincoln given by the Governor of Illinois in 2009. He has authored twelve books of his art.
Neiman produced about six different serigraph subjects a year, generally priced from $3,000 to $6,000 each. Gross annual sales of new serigraphs alone top $10 million. Originals can sell for up to $500,000 for works such as "Stretch Stampede," a mammoth 1975 oil painting of the Kentucky Derby. In addition to being a renowned sports artist, Neiman has created many works from his experience on safari, including "Portrait of a Black Panther," "Portrait of the Elephant," "Resting Lion," and "Resting Tiger." Some of his other subjects include sailing, cuisine, golf, boxing, horses, celebrities, famous locations, and America at play. Much of his work was done for Playboy magazine, for which he still illustrated monthly until his death.
Neiman worked in oil, enamel, watercolor, pencil drawings, pastels, serigraphy and some lithographs and etching. Neiman is listed in Art Collector's Almanac, Who's Who in the East, Who's Who in American Art, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World. He was a member of the Chicago Society of Artists. His works have been displayed in museums, sold at auctions, and displayed in galleries and online distributors. He is considered by many to be the first major sports artist in the world, challenged only in his later years by a new generation of artists like Stephen Holland and Richard T. Slone. His work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian, the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the State Hermitage Museum in Russia, Wadham College at Oxford and in museums and art galleries the world over, as well as in private and corporate collections.