In Memoriam – LeRoy Neiman, 1921 – 2012

Painter and sketch artist Painter and sketch artist LeRoy Neiman died Wednesday, the 20th, in Manhattan.  Neiman was one the sports world’s best known artists, capturing the energy of athletes and athletic events in bright quick strokes.  Neiman’s paintings, many executed in household enamel paints that allowed him his fast-moving strokes, are an explosion in reds, blues, pinks, greens and yellows of pure kinetic energy.

He has been described as an American impressionist, but the St. Paul, MN, native preferred to think of himself simply as an American artist.

“I don’t know if I’m an impressionist or an expressionist,” he told the AP.  “You can call me an American first. … (but) I’ve been labeled doing ‘neimanism,’ so that’s what it is, I guess.”

He worked in many media, producing thousands of etchings, lithographs and silkscreen prints known as serigraphy.

But Neiman’s critics said his forays into the commercial world minimized him as a serious artist.  At Playboy, for example, he created Femlin, the well-endowed nude that has graced the magazine’s “Party Jokes” page since 1957.

Neiman shrugged off such criticism.

“I can easily ignore my detractors and feel the people who respond favorably,” he said.

Neiman was a World War II veteran who participated in the invasion of Normandy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.  He was a self-described workaholic who seldom took vacations and had no hobbies.  He worked daily in his home studio at the Hotel des Artistes near Central Park, which he shared with his wife.

“I just love what I do,” Neiman told the AP.  “I love the passion you go through while you’re creating” and the public’s “very thoughtful and careful studied and emotional reaction of what you’re doing.”

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