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LeRoy Neiman (American, 1921-2012)
LeRoy Neiman’s kinetic portrayals of life and leisure during the 20th century earned him recognition as one of the top illustrators of the century. Neiman’s work brought fine art aesthetics to the commercial market and he experienced success on the commercial market that rivaled the popularity of Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses. Neiman began his illustration career by drawing tag illustrations for a local grocery store as a boy. He continued his art studies, and when he was stationed in Germany during WWII, the army discovered his talent for drawing and painting and he was tasked with painting sets for Red Cross shows. Upon his return to the States, Neiman studied briefly at the St. Paul School of Art before continuing on to a formal education at the Art Institution of Chicago. After his graduation, Neiman continued on as an instructor of figure drawing and fashion design at the Art Institute. It was during this time that Neiman began to experiment with house paint and developed his signature quick, free-flowing style of boldly colored leisure scenes. This new style experienced much success, and when Neiman came into contact with Hugh Hefner during the beginning phases of Playboy Magazine’s publication, they forged a relationship that would define Neiman’s career. Neiman illustrated many publications for Playboy and even created murals and paintings for the interior of the clubs, and Hefner promoted Neiman’s work earning Neiman a spot on the international stage. Neiman continued on to many other commercial endeavors including tenure as the official artist for 5 Olympiads.
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