From 10 years in the classroom as an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago early in his career after completing his own studies there, to being the official artist at five separate Olympiads and even working for CBS as a Super Bowl computer artist, LeRoy Neiman has come to be defined by his spectacular ability of taking everyday life events and turning them into magnificent works of art.
Born on June 8, 1927 in St. Paul, Minnesota, LeRoy Neiman was raised by his mother and two different stepfathers after his biological father abandoned the family early in his childhood. Living his early years in a rough blue-collar St. Paul neighborhood, Neiman's initial interest in art began at a very young age when a painting be made of a fish in the sixth grade won a prize in a national art competition. He went on in his teenage years to earn extra money by painting images of fruit, vegetables and meat on the windows of local grocery stores. He even painted portraits of the shopkeepers themselves.
While serving in the United States Army beginning in 1942, LeRoy Neiman began to gain significant recognition amongst his Army colleagues when he painted a number of eye-catching, sexually suggestive murals on the walls of military kitchens and dining halls that drew great praise from both men and women. Neiman would later go on to be a contributing artist for Playboy magazine in the 1950's, to which he still contributes illustrations to this day.
In 1953, LeRoy Neiman held his first solo art shows to display some of his earliest works at galleries in Chicago and Lincoln, Illinois. Art lovers and novices alike immediately recognized and developed great respect for Neiman's unique style, willingness to take risks and incredible ability to appeal to people of all ages, ethic groups and socio-economic backgrounds. Since the remarkable success of those first shows in 1953, Neiman has gone on to create some of the most beloved and well known paintings in United Stated history.
Citing Leonardo da Vinci and Rubens as two of his biggest personal influences, LeRoy Neiman describes his own work in the following way " A day at the races... A night at the opera... These two lines, I think, reflect the spirit of my work and my pleasures, of my art, prints and posters. In a sense, they capture the range of my environment. I have painted and sketched in casinos, hotels, bars, massage parlors, steam baths, in the salons of elegant restaurants (and sometimes their galleys), on battlefields and football fields, in law courts and tennis courts, in pool rooms and swimming pools, from the decks of luxury liners and yachts and the doorways of skid-row missions. To me, it's all Neimanland."
Throughout the course of his distinguished career, LeRoy Neiman has been the recipient of countless awards and recognitions, including an Award of Merit from the American Athletic Union in 1976 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association in 1986, among countless others. To date, more than 150,000 LeRoy Neiman prints have been purchased, having an estimated market value exceeding $400 million!
LeRoy Neiman has certainly left his distinctive, incontrovertible mark on the art world and then some, and continues to do so to this day. Neiman currently lives in New York City with his wife of more than 50 years, Janet, at the Hotel des Artistes, which has been their home together for more than 30 years.