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The first major sports artist of the world died on this day



Best known for his brilliantly coloured, expressionist paintings and illustrations that presented scenes of sports and entertainment, LeRoy Neiman passed away on this day, 20 June 2012. He worked both as an illustrator and as an artist whose paintings, prints, and drawings were shown in galleries and reproduced in numerous publications. He created illustrations for Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Harpers and dozens of other magazines, and exhibited his works at the Hammer Galleries in New York and the Franklin Bowles Gallery in San Francisco.


Born on 8 June 1921 at St. Paul, Minnesota, Neiman studied at the Art Institute of Chicago where he also taught for 10 years before moving to New York in 1962. He gained renown as official artist for ABC Television’s coverage of the Olympic Games of 1972 and 1976, and as CBS artist for the 1978 Super Bowl. He was an official poster artist for the Kentucky Derby.


Neiman worked in oil, enamel, watercolour, pencil drawings, pastels, serigraphy and some lithographs and etching. While working for Playboy he created the Femlin character for the party jokes page and did a feature for 15 years titled “Man at his Leisure”, where he would paint illustrations of his travels to exotic locations. In 1970 he did the illustration for the 5th Dimension’s album Portrait. In 1994 he created the logo for the Sherman Brothers musical Busker Alley, later the illustration was recreated as a five story high mural on the St. James Theatre on Broadway.


He received five honorary doctorates and numerous awards, a lifetime achievement award from the University of Southern California, an induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and received The Order of Lincoln award on the 200th birthday celebration of Abraham Lincoln from the Governor of Illinois in 2009.

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