LeRoy Neiman, the American artist who became famous for his colorful portrayal of athletes and who was a regular artistic presence at major sporting events, including the Olympics and the Super Bowl, has died in New York at 91. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Neiman’s artistry reached millions of people through his work creating live drawings of the Olympics for television and as an artist of the Super Bowl on CBS.
A kind of Norman Rockwell of the sporting world, Neiman created accessible works of art that depicted sports and other leisure activities in a highly colorful style that blended elements of realism and Impressionism.
Neiman’s art career got started through an unlikely connection – Hugh Hefner, the Playboy mogul, who saw the young artist’s work and was impressed. Neiman started creating art for the publication in the 1950s in Chicago.
After a stint in Paris, Neiman set up shop in New York, where he began exhibiting his work in galleries. He eventually gravitated toward sporting events in his paintings and prints. While he focused on the major American sports, like baseball and basketball, he also gained fame in a 1972 television broadcast for sketching chess players Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer playing against each other in Iceland.
Neiman served as an artist for five Olympic Games, starting in 1972 in Munich and ending in 1984 in Los Angeles.