LeRoy Neiman /   Leroy Leslie Runquist

United States 1921 - 2012



LeRoy Neiman
Leroy Leslie Runquist
United States
November 1, 2016

LeRoy Neiman, born Leroy Leslie Runquist, was an American artist of Swedish descent, best known for his brilliantly colored, expressionist paintings and screen prints of athletes, musicians, and sports. LeRoy Neiman was one of the most popular living artists in the United States before he passed away in June 2012. Millions of people have watched him create his art during the live coverage of the Olympics and Superbowl, as well as other major American and worldwide competitions. LeRoy Neiman had the journalistic talent along with an enviable artistic ability to convey the essence of games.

 Leroy Neiman is among 500 best known American artists with international career
LeRoy Neiman – Olympic-Track, 1976

Early Life and Navigation through Social Structures

LeRoy Neiman was born on June 8, 1921 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was educated at a Catholic primary school in Saint Paul, where constantly drew, entered art contests in his home country, and produced posters for school happenings. Leroy Neiman studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and also taught there for 10 years. When war raged in 1942, Neiman dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army. Neiman put his talents to use by painting murals in mess halls. His works compared enlisted men to officers, and this interest in social structure was an inspiration for many future works. Neiman’s professional influences include a variety of Impressionists, Fauvists, and Expressionists. The influence of Jackson Pollock is obvious, due to Neiman’s use of the action painting style. His first painting using this technique was Idle Boats, which was purchased by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. However, it wasn’t until his mid-career that Neiman has finished the search for his very own, recognizable style of serigraph edition. The majority of his most prominent hand signed, paper based paintings focus on sport, such as basketball, boxing, billiards, hockey, gymnastics, shot put, swimming, and even cycling. No matter the subject, ever LeRoy Neiman’s piece has the hand signed signature in the form of the bloody color red.

The majority of Leroy Neiman’s most prominent and signed paintings and limited edition serigraph and print pieces focus on sport and entertainment

Leroy Neiman's paper based portraits of Michael Jordan in print were signed and then sold at the site of auction
LeRoy Neiman – Auction at Sotheby’s

Neiman, Hugh Hefner and Playboy

Collaboration with Playboy and Hugh Hefner is one of the most important milestones in Leroy Neiman’s career. While he was a young artist who was freelancing at a Chicago department store, Neiman met Hugh Hefner, who was then a copywriter there. A few after their initial meeting, Neiman showed Hefner some of his paintings. Hefner was very surprised, even impressed, and he decided to contact Art Paul, Playboy’s art director, regarding LeRoy Neiman’s pieces. Paul immediately commissioned Neiman to illustrate Black Country, which was a short story about a life of a jazz musician. Neiman’s creation of those illustrations earned Playboy some prestigious awards and he gladly kept collaborating with the famous magazine. In 1958, LeRoy Neiman started making sketches and he decided to search for ideas for another notable Playboy feature, entitled Man at His Leisure. On this occasion, Neiman also wrote the text for the feature. Neiman’s work kept appearing in Playboy for the next 15 years and the artist started traveling a lot thanks to various Playboy commissions. For instance, in 1960, LeRoy Neiman captured many sport scenes and competitions in England, such as the Grand National Steeplechase, Epsom Derby, Ascot and also the Tour d’Argent, Maxim’s, the Lido, and the Folies-Bergere in France. He visited the Cannes Film Festival and St. Tropez too, along with the highly authentic Fiesta de San Isidro bullfights. Neiman never missed any of Monaco gatherings as well, such as the Grand Prix auto race. The variety of subjects that LeRoy Neiman depicted for Playboy in his later years don’t include only happenings, but also portraiture, such as include the Beatles and the Carnaby Street scene in London. Neiman portrayed Prince Philip playing polo at Windsor Castle, controversial nudists relaxing on the Adriatic Coast of Croatia, America’s Cup challenges and even Bolshoi ballet dancers in Russia. Between 1960 and 1970, LeRoy Neiman has produced more than 100 canvas-based works and two murals for Playboy. This magazine made the good life a reality for me and made it the subject matter of my work – not affluence and luxury, as such, but joie de vivre itself, LeRoy Neiman said about the nature of his vibrant and ever-changing pieces.

Collaboration with Playboy was one of the most important milestones in Neiman’s career

Leroy Neiman's depiction of world famous Brooklyn Bridge is full of intense red tones
LeRoy Neiman – Brooklyn Bridge, 1995

Worldwide Artistic Collaborations

In 1961, LeRoy Neiman rented a studio in Paris, which became his temporary home and artistic sanctuary. While living in France, Neiman has studied the Deauville social season and he won one of his earliest awards – a gold medal at the Salon d’Art Moderne, in Paris. After spending some time in France, Neiman decided to move to Italy for a while, where he painted a regatta of gondoliers in Venice and made friends with the legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini. Neiman’s first solo exhibitions outside the United States were held in galleries in London and Paris in 1962. After returning to the United States in 1963, Neiman has established his own studio in New York City. During the same year, Leeroy Neiman had his first solo exhibit in New York, at the Hammer Galleries, where he showcased his entire oeuvre. After this initial success, more than 50 additional venues in the United States have hosted Neiman’s exhibitions – Minnesota Museum of Art, the University of Texas in El Paso, the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and the Museo de Bellas Artes, in Venezuela.

While living in France, LeRoy Neiman has studied the Deauville social season

LeRoy Neiman didn't depict only golf matches, sports and stars like Ali but also architecture
LeRoy Neiman – Metropolitan Opera, 1966

Neiman and Important Sport Gatherings

In 1972, thousands of curious people worldwide watched LeRoy Neiman sketching Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer at the legendary champion chess tournament in Iceland.[3] Later on, Neiman started sketching various exciting duels and scenes at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. For the creation of Olympics sketches, Neiman used an amazing combination of rather versatile materials. He combined watercolor, ink, gouache, felt-tip marker, chalk, colored pencil, graphite, and charcoal.[1] The artist has shown his remarkable skills at portraiture and stop-motion drawing many times during the next decade – Neiman visited the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, Lake Placid in 1980, Sarajevo and Los Angeles in 1984. In 1978 and 1979 at Super Bowl, he changed his regular techniques and started using a computerized electronic pen to sketch the live action for CBS-TV. LeRoy Neiman was the official artist for the Sports Spectaculars broadcast in 1979 and 1980, and also for the 1986 Goodwill Games, which were held in Moscow and supported by the Turner Broadcasting Network.

In 1978 and 1979 at Super Bowl, the artist changed his regular techniques and started using a computerized electronic pen

neiman leroy and his limited edition of golf inspired serigraph works achieved international fame in 2016
LeRoy Neiman – Post Season Classic, 1985

Most Successful Exhibitions of LeRoy Neiman

Some of LeRoy Neiman’s most successful early exhibits were the Chicago Art Exhibition and Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art’s American 25th Biennial Exhibition. Neiman was commissioned to produce illustrations and other artwork for Playboy Magazine, his most famous series being Man at His Leisure. Neiman traveled the world, painting the best in entertainment industry, from English steeplechases to the Cannes Film Festival. Neiman also worked at studios in France and Italy. When Neiman returned to the United States, his first solo gallery exhibition was held at New York’s Hammer Galleries. He has covered five Olympiads, holds four honorary degrees, and wrote nine books, including Horses and Winners. In 1995, Neiman endowed Columbia University with the funds to create the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. Also, it is well-known that hundreds of works by Neiman appeared in his nine books – Horses from 1979, LeRoy Neiman Posters from 1980, Carnaval from 1981 and Winners from 1983, which was one of his most popular works which got published even in Japanese in 1985.[2] The rest of his works were entitled Monte Carlo Chase, Big Time Gol, LeRoy Neiman, An American in Paris and LeRoy Neiman On Safari. Each year until his death, LeRoy used to create around eight limited-edition serigraph and silkscreen works, which were usually distributed by Knoedler Publishing. All of Neiman’s works were sold in many galleries throughout the United States and Europe and around 150,000 of Neiman prints have been purchased to date.

In 1995, the artist endowed Columbia University with the funds to create the LeRoy Neiman Center

neiman leroy produced more than 500 paper based hand made serigraph works portraying stars like ali and michael jordan
LeRoy Neiman – Augusta Golf

Enormous Appeal of Neiman’s Work

The prominent Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in Russia has bought 19 of Leroy Neiman’s works in 1973, which are still in their permanent collections. Despite such great recognition and success, art critics have often totally ignored LeRoy Neiman’s, labeling it as superficial or vulgar. Yet, many of his colorful images of the so-called good life have appeared in the form of beautiful etchings, lithographs, silkscreen and even sculptures in the most important permanent collections of public and private museums, galleries and similar art institutions worldwide. These institutional acquisitions, more than anything else, speak of the great value and enormous appeal of LeRoy Neiman’s art. Whether one approves of LeRoy Neiman’s view or not, one must agree that he is a work of art himself, because of his constant efforts to depict entertainment industry and sport in the most enticing ways. Exactly this constant effort is what signed LeRoy Neiman’s place in the history of art and sport alike.

LeRoy Neiman lived and worked in New York City.


  1. Neiman, L., All Told: My Art And Life Among Athletes, Playboys, Bunnies, And Provocateur, Lyons Press, 2012
  2. Neiman, L., LeRoy Neiman: An American in Paris, Harry N. Abrams, 1994
  3. Neiman, L., The Prints of Leroy Neiman: A Catalogue Raisonne of Serigraphs, Lithographs, and Etchings, Knoedler, 1980

All images © LeRoy Neiman Foundation

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2014LeRoy Neiman ExhibitFranklin Bowles Galleries, New YorkSolo
2014LeRoy Neiman: Action!Shaw Museum of Art at LSU, Baton RougeSolo
2013Fore! Images of Golf in ArtFranklin G Burroughs–Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, Myrtle Beach Area Art, The Hole GalleryGroup
2013LeRoy Neiman Solo ShowFranklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2012We the PeopleRobert Rauschenberg Project Space, New YorkGroup
2012LeRoy Neiman Single ShowFranklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2011Neiman at 90Franklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2008Encore, FemlinFranklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2007FemlinFranklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2005LeRoy Neiman: The Art of BoxingFranklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2003LeRoy Neiman on SafariThe Wildlife Experience, Parker, ColoradoSolo
2003LeRoy Neiman in CubaPratt Institute, New YorkSolo
2003A View from the TableHammer Galleries, New YorkSolo
2002LeRoy Neiman: Thirty Years in San FranciscoFranklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2001LeRoy Neiman: Works on PaperNational Art Museum of Sport, IndianapolisSolo
2001LeRoy Neiman: Master PrintmakerFranklin Bowles Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
2001LeRoy Neiman – A Retrospective Exhibition of Works on PaperFairfield Gallery, Fairfield, CSolo
2000A Decade of Retrospective Works by LeRoy NeimanHanson Gallery, New Orleans, LASolo
2000LeRoy Neiman: A Thirty -Year RetrospectiveTimothy Yarger Fine Art, Beverly HillsSolo
1998Animals: The Wild and the TameBowles Galleries, San Francisco and Beverly HillsSolo
1997The Art of SportKentucky Derby Museum, USASolo
1997LeRoy Neiman on SafariHammer Galleries, New YorkSolo
1997LeRoy Neiman on SafariLa Galleria D’Arte, Newport BeachSolo
1997The Safari SuiteCentaur Sculpture Galleries, Las VegasSolo
1996Superbowl XXXAmerican Fine Art Editions, ScottsdaleSolo
1996LeRoy Neiman: Portraits of Our Times, 1946 -96Bowles, Sorokko, Yarger Galleries, Beverly Hills and San FranciscoSolo
1995Racing RetrospectiveKentucky Derby Museum, USASolo
1993Equine ArtKentucky Derby Museum, USAGroup
1993City by the Bay DebutBowles, Sorokko Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
1993An Exhibition of Equine ArtKentucky Derby Museum, USASolo
1993Un Américain à ParisGalerie Marcel Bernheim, ParisSolo
1992Drawing New ConclusionsArt Institute of Chicago, ChicagoGroup
1992The Beatles DebutDyansen Gallery, Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic CitySolo
1992Big Time GolfHammer Galleries, New YorkSolo
1992Big Time GolfBowles/Sorokko Galleries, Beverly HillsSolo
1992Big Time GolfBowles/Sorokko Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
1992Big Time GolfBowles/Sorokko Galleries, New YorkSolo
1992Big Time GolfMinotaur Galleries, Las VegasSolo
1992Big Time GolfMerrill Chase Galleries, ChicagoSolo
1991Expose Yourself to ArtUniversity of Southern Florida, USAGroup
1991LeRoy Neiman: Man at his LeisurePlayboy offices, ChicagoSolo
1991The Prints of LeRoy Neiman 1980-1990Bowles Sorokko Gallery, Beverly HillsSolo
1990Amnesty International ExhibitionNew York, NYGroup
1990Director’s ChoicePark Shore Gallery, NaplesGroup
1990Exhibition at “The Art Spirit” EventButler Institute of American Art, YoungstownSolo
1990Bay Area Baseball DebutBowles Sorokko Galleries, San FranciscoSolo
1990LeRoy Neiman: A Series of Sport SerigraphsSpringfield Art Association, Springfield, ILSolo
1989Art’s as Good an Investment as BondsBaja Club, New YorkGroup
1989The Greatest Hits Vol. 1 ShowTunnel Club, New YorkGroup
198920/20 ExhibitionSteiner & Young Galleries, Marietta, GeorgiaGroup
1989Soft PaintingsHammer Galleries, New YorkSolo
1989Polo Lounge DebutBowles Sorokko Galleries, Beverly HillsSolo
1989Select Works by LeRoy NeimanMidwest Museum of Art, ElkhartSolo
1989A Salute to Central ParkHammer Galleries, New YorkSolo
1989The Playboy CollectionDyansen Gallery (Traveling exhibition), New York, Beverly Hills, Atlantic City, San Francisco, BostonSolo
1988LeRoy NeimanMickey Mantle’s Sports Art Gallery, New YorkGroup
1988L’art et L’automobile 9automotive artists group exhibition)L’art et L’automobile Gallery, New YorkGroup
1988The Famous ShowChina Club, New YorkGroup
1988New Perspectives on Contemporary ArtTunnel Club, New YorkGroup
1988Women in SportsSpringfield College, Springfield, MAGroup
1988Annual American Masters ExhibitionFoster Harmon Galleries of American Art, SarasotaGroup
1988The Most Famous Artist AliveTunnel Club, New YorkGroup
1988The Mustache Show: Salvador Dali and LeRoy NeimanTunnel Club, New YorkDuo
1988Neiman’s World(Touring exhibition), JapanSolo
1988In the Pocket: Superbowl XXII painting premierAllyson Louis Gallery, BethesdaSolo
1987The Horse: Man’s Noble Companio nThe Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJGroup
1987Annual American Masters ExhibitionFoster Harmon Galleries of American Art, SarasotaGroup
1987Athletes and HeroesBank One, YoungstownGroup
1987Master Prints of the 19th – 20th CenturyHammer Galleries, New YorkGroup
1987LeRoy Neiman in MoscowHammer Galleries, New YorkSolo
1986Nob Hill Premier and ExhibitionBowles Hopkins Gallery, San FranciscoSolo
1985AmericanaWhitney Museum of American Art, New YorkGroup
1985American Masters of the 1940s, 50s, and 60sFrank Oehlschlaeger Gallery, ChicagoGroup
1984Champions: The Olympic Athlete in ArtSan Diego Museum of Art, USAGroup
1983Showstoppers: Great Moments of the American MusicalMuseum of the City of New York, NYGroup
1983Greenwich Workshop Gallery Miniature Show ’83Greenwich Workshop Gallery, Seymour, CTGroup
1982When They Were Very YoungAmherst College Student Art Gallery, Amherst, MAGroup
1981That Belmont LookNew York State Museum, AlbanyGroup
1981LeRoy Neiman and Andy WarholLos Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Los AngelesDuo
1979Ringside: The Fine Art of BoxingSpectrum Fine Art, New YorkGroup
1979Panorama of American ArtMidwest Museum of Art, Elkhart, INGroup
1979Treasures of Island CreekLouisville, KYGroup
1978National Exhibition of Tennis ArtInternational Tennis Hall of Fame, NewportGroup
1978Ball, Bat, and GloveSpectrum Fine Art, Royal Orleans Hotel, New OrleansGroup
1978Ball, Bat, and GloveSpectrum Fine Art, New YorkGroup
1978LeRoy Neiman and Robert AddisonArt Institute of Chicago, ILDuo
1977National Exhibition of Tennis ArtInternational Tennis Hall of Fame, NewportGroup
1976Watercolor U.S.A. National Invitational ExhibitionSpringfield Art Museum, Springfield, MOGroup
1975Holiday ExhibitionHammer Galleries, New YorkGroup
1975Hammer Galleries GraphicsHammer Galleries, New YorkGroup
1975Drawings USA 75Minnesota Museum of Art, USAGroup
1973Alexander Calder and LeRoy NeimanNassau Gallery, Baldwin, NYDuo
1958Navy Pier Art ShowChicago, ILGroup
1958Brotherhood in ArtMarshall Field & Co. Gallery, ChicagoGroup
1958Ravinia FestivalRavinia, USAGroup
1958Chicago ArtistsAnna Werbe Gallery, Detroit, MIGroup
1958Old Orchard Art FestivalNorth Shore Art League, SkokieGroup
1957Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil PaintingsCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DCGroup
1957American Painting and SculptureArt Institute of Chicago, ILGroup
1957Navy Pier Art ShowChicago, ILGroup