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LeRoy Neiman papers, 1938-2005

Biographical Note

LeRoy Neiman has been described as the most popular living painter in America. While strikingly original, his work reflects the varied influences of Toulouse-Lautrec, Dufy, the New York Social Realists, and the Abstract Expressionists. Probably best known as a portrayer of sporting and social events, he virtually invented the modern genre of sports art and remains its most accomplished and acclaimed practitioner.
Among many other accomplishments, he was the first and only on-camera official artist for ABC-TV at the Olympics in Munich, 1972 and Montreal, 1976, and covered several other winter and summer Olympiads as an official artist. He was the first artist to create live, on-camera computer art while covering the 1978 Super Bowl in New Orleans for CBS-TV. In 1997 he was selected as the first official artist of the Kentucky Derby. But Neiman's interests range far and wide. As a painter, printmaker, and author, his subjects have included Parisian cafés, African safaris, famous bars, five-star restaurants, urban street scenes, the opera, political figures, jazz musicians, entertainers, stage and screen stars, gambling casinos, portraits, international stock exchanges, and much more.
For the past quarter-century, Neiman has created limited-edition serigraphs (silk-screen prints). Published and distributed exclusively by Knoedler Publishing, they are sold in selected galleries throughout the United States. By one estimate, the more than 150,000 Neiman prints that have been purchased to date have an estimated market value exceeding $400 million. Neiman is the author of twelve books: Horses, LeRoy Neiman Posters, Winners, which was also published in Japanese, Big Time Golf, LeRoy Neiman: An American in Paris, LeRoy Neiman on Safari, and LeRoy Neiman: Five Decades, all published by Harry N. Abrams, as well as Art and Life Style, Carnaval, Monte Carlo Chase, Casey at the Bat, and the newly-released limited edition LeRoy Neiman Sketchbook: Liston vs. Clay 1964/ Ali vs. Liston 1965, 2004. Knoedler Publishing has published The Prints of LeRoy Neiman, Volumes I-III, a catalogue raisonnes on Neiman's limited edition prints.
Over the years the artist has donated scores of his artworks to dozens of charitable causes and organizations. Through his work with the Good Tidings Foundation, two LeRoy Neiman Art Centers for Youth have been built in elementary schools in California. In 1995, he gave the School of the Arts at Columbia University in New York City an endowment of $6 million to create the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, dedicated to the study of fine art printmaking and the development of new methods of printmaking, and including a scholarship program. A 1998 donation led to the creation of the LeRoy Neiman Center for the Study of American Culture and Society at UCLA.
Neiman's work is represented in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum, the Minneapolis Museum of Art, the Hermitage of St. Petersburg and numerous other museums and public and private collections worldwide. A past member of the New York City Advisory Commission for Cultural Affairs, Neiman has received five honorary degrees and, among other honors, an Award of Merit from the American Athletic Union, a Gold Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, in addition to being named Boxing Artist of 1966 by Lonsdale, London.
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Born June 8 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Leaves high school to enlist in the army; serves four years in Europe.
Studies at the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art with Clement Haupers.
Student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; studies with Boris Anisfeld; studies liberal arts at University of Illinois and De Paul University, Chicago.
Member of the Faculty, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, teaching figure drawing and fashion drawing.
Exhibits in Twin City Show at Minneapolis Institute of Arts; wins Chicago Art Directors Award.
Begins using enamel house paints; develops interest in drawing horse racing at Arlington Park; wins First Prize for painting "Idle Boats", a purchase prize, at Twin City Show, Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Begins association with Playboy magazine illustrating Charles Beaumont story, which wins Chicago Art Directors Award; exhibits for first time in Chicago Artists and Vicinity Show, where he continues to show for next six years; wins Second Prize, Minnesota State Show; exhibits at Philadelphia Art Alliance.
Instructor of painting at Elmwood Park Art League and North Shore Art League; exhibits at the Carnegie Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting; creates the "Femlin" symbolic character which appears in Playboy for next 47 years; wins New York Art Directors Award.
Included in "New Talent in America in 1956", published in Art in America, February 1956; delves deeper into Chicago sports scene, draws Chicago Bears, Blackhawks and boxing.
Exhibits in Corcoran Gallery of Art "American 25th Biennial Exhibition", Washington, D.C.; awarded most popular prize out of 3,000 entries as well as the juried Clark Memorial Prize and Vicinity Show; first television appearance on Art Institute of Chicago TV show, "Artist's Choice"; painting instructor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago Summer Session and for two years at Ox-Bow Summer School, Saugatuck, Michigan teaching landscape painting; marries art student Janet Byrne.
Exhibits at the "Society of Contemporary American Art Exhibition", Art Institute of Chicago, for three years; begins extensive travels for Playboy magazine, creating a feature on the high life called "Man at His Leisure", which appears regularly for the next 15 years; wins Municipal Art Award at "Chicago Artist and Vicinity Show", and Hamilton & Graham Cash Prize, Ball State Teachers College Drawing Show, Muncie, Indiana.
Holds one-man show of racing scenes at Arlington Park Race Track, Chicago; shows in "Jazz Exhibition" and "Social Observation and Comment in Art Show" in Chicago.
Paints at Squaw Valley Winter Olympic Games; travels six months through Europe covering sporting and social events, the Grand National Steeplechase, Epsom Derby, Ascot, and the Oxford-Cambridge boat race in England, Maxim's Tour d'Argent, the Lido and Folies Bergere in Paris, the Cannes Film Festival and St. Tropez, Fiesta de San Isidro bullfights in Madrid, the Grand Prix in Monaco auto race.
Executes over one hundred paintings and two murals for eighteen Playboy Clubs.
Takes studio in Paris; does studies of Deauville social season and sketches the great restaurants of France; sketches Dublin Horse Show and cricket at Lord's in London; wins gold medal for oil painting at the "Salon d'Art Moderne", Paris.
Sketches Bordeaux wine country, Paris fashion shows, racing at Longchamp, and Giraglia Yacht Race on Riviera; paints Regatta of the Gondoliers in Venice; does studies of Fellini directing "8 ½" and sketches at Cine Citta studios in Rome; visits U.S. to work on commission for 12 paintings of the Indianapolis 500.
Returns from Paris; establishes a studio in New York; teaches painting at Arts and Crafts, Inc., Winston-Salem, North Carolina; holds first one-man exhibition in New York at Hammer Galleries; travels to Mexico with Shel Silverstein; sketches in Mexico City and Acapulco.
Starts series of Muhammad Ali sketches and paintings which spans the next 15 years; sketches America's Cup Challenge at Newport, Rhode Island; returns to England to sketch London night life and Prince Phillip playing polo at Windsor; paints the Tour de France in Paris.
Commemorates Sugar Ray Robinson with 8' x 6' portrait "Farewell to Boxing" unveiled at Madison Square Garden ceremony; paints portrait of Mae West and poet Marianne Moore.
Sketches Kentucky Derby; in London paints personalities and scenes including the Beatles and Carnaby Street, Kenneth Tynan, Sir Ralph Richardson; paints surfing in California; executes mural for Swedish-Lloyd Ship, S. S. Patricia; creates art for film "Casino Royale"; sketches indoor polo for opening of Houston Astrodome.
Sketches and paints leading figures in the arts, sports and entertainment world, including Leonard Bernstein, Joe Louis, Frank Sinatra, Brigitte Bardot and ballerina Suzanne Farrell; paints "24 Hours of LeMans", nudist scenes on the Dalmatian Coast of Yugoslavia, the Fiesta at Pamplona, the dolce vita of Rome.
Paints the Kirov and Bolshoi ballets in Russia; is named artist-in-residence from the bench of the New York Jets football team; executes critical sketches of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago; paints Bobby Hull for Time magazine cover; contributed drawings for Harpers magazine articles on Cassius Clay and on Bobby Kennedy and race relations; initiates art class for Atlanta Poverty Program.
Sketches civil rights figures and teaches art in Atlanta Poverty Program; creates poster for Kurt Weill Off-Broadway show and program cover for Oh! Calcutta; sketches New York City Ballet; appears regularly on TV as New York Jets artist-in-residence; collaborates with Dave Anderson on book, Countdown to Super Bowl; covers horse racing at Ascot and Longchamp, camel racing in Morocco.
Paints backdrop for Broadway play Borstal Boy and does album cover for Fifth Dimension; exhibits in the Time magazine "Covers Show" at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; sketches sporting and social events in Dublin, and holds one-man show at the Abbey Theatre; travels with Hugh Hefner in Europe, Greece and Africa; sketches wildlife on safari in Africa; creates poster for Ali-Quarry fight, Ali's return to the ring in Atlanta; paints $100,000 baseball players for book, This Great Game; paints New York Stock Exchange.
Has one-man exhibition at Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas; travels to Monte Carlo, London, Paris and Switzerland; develops interest in printmaking; creates two-part TV program on the art of lithography and produces etchings and lithographs at Atelier Weber in Zurich; creates official poster and draws pre-fight sketches of Ali-Frazier Super Fight I at Madison Square Garden for The New York Times Magazine cover and post-fight sketches for ABC-TV; illustrates Jose Torres' book on Ali, Sting Like a Bee.
Covers Fischer-Spasky world champion chess tournament at Reykjavik, Iceland and Munich Olympic Games, both on camera for ABC-TV; covers World Series for NBC-TV; creates serigraph of Knicks-Lakers championship game; paints Super Bowl for Time magazine cover; and cover for Golf Digest.
Creates Super Bowl art for CBS-TV; sketches the Masters Golf Tournament for Golf Digest magazine; paints commission for Museum of Jazz; creates serigraph of Triple Crown winner Secretariat; sketches Foreman-Frazier fight in Jamaica; travels on multi-city tour and exhibit of Olympic serigraphs; nineteen serigraphs chosen by the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, for its permanent collection.
Has exhibition in Tokyo and sketches sumo, baseball and horse racing for Japanese TV; covers Stanley Cup hockey playoffs for NBC-TV; creates poster for Newport Jazz Festival and for next 5 years; creates poster for Ali-Foreman fight in Kinshasa, Zaire, and for Frank Sinatra concert at Carnegie Hall; Art and Lifestyle is published.
Creates official St. Paul Bicentennial poster; given major retrospective at the Minnesota Museum of Art; creates official program cover for World Series; creates poster for Ali-Frazier III and paints cockfights in Manila; creates first of four annual posters for Robert F. Kennedy Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament; book The Artist's Limited Edition of Moby Dick is published.
Paints mural on camera as ABC-TV Official Artist at Olympic Games, Montreal; paints on French Riviera; holds one-man show at Knoedler Gallery in London; exhibits in national invitational "Watercolor USA Show" at Springfield Art Museum, Missouri, and "Drawings USA Show" at the Minnesota Museum of Art; paints Harlem scene for Jazzmobile poster; paints Chris Evert for Saturday Evening Post cover.
Holds one-man shows in Stockholm and Helsinki; works in Paris; paints NBA All-Star game; creates poster for Lacrosse USA.
Performs first live execution of computer art for CBS-TV coverage of Super Bowl, New Orleans; creates poster for Bill Bradley senatorial campaign; creates poster for Ali-Spinks II match in New Orleans.
Appointed Grand Marshal with Jesse Owens at The Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa; paints the Ginza, Kamakura Buddha, Mount Fuji in Japan, Royal Ascot in London, and Pan-Am Games in Puerto Rico, for CBS-TV; book Horses is published.
Appointed Official Artist of the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games and Official Artist of the Democratic National Convention, New York; paints commission for Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas; sketches Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro; presents painting commemorating signing of Arab-Israeli peace treaty at Camp David to President Carter at the White House; book Posters is published.
Holds two-man exhibition with Andy Warhol at Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, California; executes 24' x 16' portrait of Sylvester Stallone for Rocky film; creates art and appears as ring announcer in Rocky films II, III, IV and V; book Carnaval is published.
Has one-man exhibition at Harrod's, and paints the "The Stock Exchange, London"; creates poster for Kool Jazz Festival; paints and exhibits in Tokyo.
Has one-man exhibitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans; executes billboard, television commercial and program for Lido show at the Tropicana, Las Vegas; book Winners is published.
Appointed Official Artist, Winter Olympics, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia and Summer Olympics, Los Angeles.
Returns to Brazil to paint Gavea Golf and Country Club in Rio de Janeiro and stock exchange in Sao Paulo; named Honorary Marshal at St. Paul Winter Carnival; Japanese version of Winners is published.
Appointed Official Artist, Goodwill Games in Moscow for Turner Broadcasting Network; paints America's Cup commission for the New York Yacht Club.
Paints and makes video documentaries of Old St. Andrews in Scotland and the Riviera in France; paints Indianapolis 500 auto race commission; presents "Minute Man" poster to President Reagan at the White House.
Holds one-man exhibitions in Japan and Moscow; executes mural for Golden Nugget, Las Vegas; paints commission for the Caribbean Classic at Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico; paints and makes video documentary of "Napoleon at Waterloo"; book Monte Carlo Chase is published.
Paints Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli and Sammy Davis, Jr. at Royal Albert Hall, London; sketches the World Series at Candlestick Park in San Francisco during earthquake; does sketches and paintings and video documentary of New York's Central Park, and holds exhibition at the boathouse in the park.
Executes commemorative painting for 100th anniversary of Los Angeles Dodgers; holds one-man exhibition for inaugural Grand Prix auto race in Denver; paints the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia; travels and sketches in Rome, Paris and Hong Kong.
Executes commissioned paintings for 25th anniversary of Spectrum Stadium, Philadelphia, and 10th anniversary of Miami Grand Prix and of Joe Morgan and Jim Palmer for Baseball Hall of Fame induction; travels to Japan to paint geishas, the Ginza and golf; creates Michael Jordan serigraph and poster; works on sketchbooks and paintings in Paris and Berlin.
Paints Tom Seaver for Baseball Hall of Fame induction; paints suite of four famous golf courses in conjunction with publication of Big-Time Golf; works on sketchbooks and paintings in Venice, Milan and Rome; honored by the Art Institute of Chicago as an outstanding alumnus; commissioned to paint Bobby Orr by Polaroid.
Paints Reggie Jackson for Baseball Hall of Fame induction, Larry Bird for Boston Garden, and Iroquois Steeplechase, Nashville; creates poster for CBS-TV film Call of the Wild; holds one-man exhibition at the Kentucky Derby Museum; paints Frank Sinatra for cover of "Duets" album.
Paints Pebble Beach Golf Clubhouse; creates poster for CBS-TV film The Yearling, attends and paints Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta; paints in Monte Carlo and Venice; goes on to paint safari in Kenya; sketches Luciano Pavarotti at Metropolitan Opera; paints Frank Sinatra for "Duets II" album; book An American in Paris is published.
Paints Babe Ruth for the Baseball Hall of Fame, U.S. Open at Shinnecock Golf Course, and Rockefeller Center; creates 40-foot mural on Broadway theater for Tommy Tune's musical, Busker Alley; gives 30-year retrospective exhibition at the Kentucky Derby Museum; appointed a member of the New York City Advisory Commission for Cultural Affairs; honored by Playboy for the 40th anniversary of the Femlin character.
Commissioned by United Nations to create six postage stamps for the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta; paints Super Bowl XXX in Phoenix, Arizona; honored by Boxing Writers and England's Lonsdale Boxing Club; paints "Hall of Famer" for the Baseball Hall of Fame's permanent art exhibition; creates serigraph of "The 3 Tenors", Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti.
Inauguration of the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University, New York; introduction of LeRoy Neiman Selection Cigar; narrates and appears in film documentary on Cuba and cigars, Rhythm and Smoke; creates poster commemorating 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of racial barrier in Major League Baseball; creates first official Kentucky Derby poster; travels to South Africa to present commissioned portrait of President Nelson Mandela; book LeRoy Neiman on Safari is published.
Inaugurates LeRoy Neiman Center for Study of American Culture and Society, UCLA, Los Angeles; unveils baccarat painting for Desert Inn, Las Vegas; exhibits and participates in seminar on Frank Sinatra at Hofstra University; paints and creates serigraph of Joe DiMaggio; creates label for Duval-Leroy champagne; creates official poster for Breeders' Cup, Louisville; cover art for Good Will Games New York official program, and for article in The Nation; honored at Ox-Bow Gala at the Art Institute of Chicago, and by Sportscasters.
Creates art for Givenchy perfumes; presents portrait of Mark McGwire and creates serigraph edition commemorating record home run hitter. Paints John Elway and creates serigraph celebrating retirement from football; releases serigraph of Mickey Mantle; participates in Olympic Games seminar on Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner crossing; gambling prints installed in Salle Privée at Paris Casino in Las Vegas; creates poster for Taxicab Chronicles Off-Broadway play; visits Havana to sketch Cuban rhythms. Sketches Army-Navy game in Philadelphia for West Point commission.
Creates boxing painting for use as poster for Heavyweight Explosion cable TV program; book The Prints of LeRoy Neiman 1991-2000 is published; releases serigraphs of Mike Piazza and Cal Ripken, Jr.; the first LeRoy Neiman Art Center for Youth is opened in San Francisco; commissioned to create artwork for 125th Preakness Stakes and 2000 PGA Championship Tournament at Valhalla Golf Course.
Salutes Muhammad Ali as "Athlete of the Century" with oversized portrait and limited edition serigraphs. Commissioned to paint Mardi Gras official poster for 2002; commissioned to paint Phoenix Suns star Charles Barkley on retirement of uniform number; commissioned to paint UCLA basketball coach John Wooden; holds retrospective drawing exhibition at the Fairfield Public Gallery, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; creates poster for 2001 All-Star Jockey Championship; attends 25th year reunion of ABC-TV coverage of 1976 Munich Olympics. Commissioned by New York City Fire Department to commemorate September 11 terrorist attack for benefit of NYFD Widows and Orphans Fund; creates image of NYFD fireman's helmet and for the first time allows an image to be used and sold on t-shirts; also donates original painting to auction for Widows and Orphans Fund. Honorary Chairman at the annual Bare Walls event at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the second LeRoy Neiman Art Center for Youth is opened in Watsonville, California; the largest serigraph yet by artist, "Circus", having image size of 43 ¾" x 65", is completed after 2 years work.
Commissioned to paint Wayne Gretzky, Gold Medal winning coach of the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team; commissioned to create official tournament poster for the first U.S. Open to be held at a public golf course, Bethpage on Long Island, New York; illustrates "Casey at the Bat", published as a trade edition by Ecco Press, with Foreword by New York Yankees manager Joe Torre; creates the Tyson/Lewis poster for the boxing heavyweight championship fight in Memphis; creates the official poster and program cover for the Oscar de la Hoya/Fernando Valenzuela championship boxing match in Las Vegas; honored with a tribute dinner at the Friar's Club in New York City; painting of Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird is unveiled during Johnson's induction ceremonies at the Basketball Hall of Fame; Gallagher's Steak House in New York City unveils a permanent collection of Neiman artwork portraying the city's greatest athletes; receives Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to golf and sport art at the Art of Golf Festival at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina; inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.
Unveiled commissioned painting of the racehorse Funnycide at Saratoga; opens exhibition "LeRoy Neiman on Safari" at the Wildlife Experience museum in Denver, CO; S.T. Dupont releases special edition LeRoy Neiman Golf pen and lighter set; mounts exhibition "LeRoy Neiman in Cuba" at the Pratt Institute; paints the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita; publishes book LeRoy Neiman: Five Decades with Harry N. Abrams.
Commissioned to paint poster design for the 2005 Special Olympics in Nagano; paints portrait of Secretariat for the Secretariat Museum; paints program cover design for the Newport Jazz Festival and participates in a group exhibition at the festival; receives Medal of Honor at Ellis Island from NECO; paints portraits of Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins for their fight program and presents the paintings to the fighters; completes a set of seven jazz lithographs at Columbia's Neiman Center for Print Studies; films a cameo appearance for Sylvester Stallone's television show "The Contender"; produces a set of five limited edition prints of Martha Graham for the Martha Graham Dance Company; publishes limited edition artist's book LeRoy Neiman Sketchbook: Liston vs. Clay 1964/Ali vs. Liston 1965 with powerHouse Books and Meridian Printing.