Leroy Neiman

Leroy Neiman, American 

 

Of all contemporary American artists, LeRoy Neiman's appeal to both critical and popular audiences is nearly matchless with respect to longevity, consistency and sustained success. For both substance and style, he is immediately recognizable: a visual chronicler of humanity at sport and play, delivered in a bold, colorful amalgamation of elements from Social Realism, Abstract Expressionism and Abstract Action Painting. His images have graced the walls of museums and galleries, clubs and private homes. Neiman is egalitarian in his thematic choices, for although he has gained a considerable reputation for representing society's creme de la creme - aristocrats, celebrities, major sports figures - he is as much interested in the activities of more ordinary folk - barkeepers and showgirls, stableboys and beachgoers. It is the vitality of the moment that captures his attention and which he, in turn, communicates to a worldwide audience.

Since his entry to the art world in the early 1950's, Neiman's singular style has excited the imagination by translating feeling into form with bold line, brilliant color and complex composition. Abstract Expressionism freed the artist from content, changing the focus to the process of painting. The gesture, the event, became paramount in importance. Neiman embraced the conceptual framework of the movement, but didn't abandon the figurative element. Instead, his work represents a hybrid of ideals: the pure, radiant color of the Fauvists, the gesture of the Abstract Expressionists, the Social Realists' desire to visually comment upon the lives of their contemporaries. Upon close inspection, a Neiman image appears to be a convergence of abstract shapes. It is distance t