LeRoy Neiman, who passed away in June 2012, married fine art to popular art with his brilliantly colored, energetic depictions of sports, celebrities, America at play, life on safari, and locations from the White House lawn to a nudist colony on the Adriatic. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, he left high school in 1942 to join the U.S. Army, returning four years later to obtain his high school degree. He then studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (where he taught for ten years), the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. Early in the 1950s he did fashion illustration for the department store of Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., where he met Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in 1953. He lived in New York City, overlooking Central Park.
"What intrigued me about LeRoy from the very beginning was that his work was rooted in fine art. He was teaching at the Art Institute when nobody else was blurring the lines between fine art and commercial art like he was. He’s always had that distinctive LeRoy style, one that I knew from day one would define the unique nature of Playboy. Trust has been the key to our relationship, and he’s the only artist I’ve worked with for more than fifty years. He’s a tremendous talent and a tremendous human being."
"It was not unusual for me to look up from a workout or a sparring session to see LeRoy perched on a chair, off to the side, studying my movements while sketching in quick strokes. With his bold colors and distinctive artistic style, LeRoy’s art and sketches captured my attention and imagination. He made me look as colorful and pretty on paper as I was in person--now that’s talent!"
"LeRoy Neiman’s love of jazz is real. His series of stunning poster art, depicting Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday contributed immensely to the success that is The Newport Jazz Festival. LeRoy donated this work to us in the years between 1964 and 2004. He would accept no compensation, which we couldn’t have afforded any way. His work and his story, All Told, are priceless."
--George Wein, jazz impresario, founder of The Newport Jazz Festival
“Pop culture’s court painter, LeRoy Neiman, turns 91, an occasion he’ll celebrate by publishing an often amusing autobiography…”
--The New York Times Style magazine
With hundreds of photos and color illustrations, a memoir filled with the biggest celebrities in twentieth-century sport, art, theater, music, film, and beyond, by the late LeRoy Neiman—the artist who “defined a century in vibrating color”