Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rant #761: Portrait of an Artist

LeRoy Neiman passed away yesterday at age 91.

Many of you probably recognize the name, but don't know much him.

He was a painter and a sketch artist, and probably, if you had asked him what he did for a living, that is probably what he would have told you.

But Neiman was a bit more complex than that.

Let's face it, I don't usually go over the careers of painters. But this guy was something well beyond that.

For decades, Neiman was most widely known as a sports artist.

Using quick strokes, he was able to capture movement, in a painting, which is something incredible in itself.

When you looked at a Neiman painting, of a Muhammad Ali, or of some other athlete, you really felt that you were seeing movement even though the picture was stationary.

He painted them all, from Ali to Namath to Jordan to Tiger Woods to numerous baseball players and Olympic athletes, will certainly outlive him. They are cherished pieces, commanding lots of money to own one.

You would often see him out at the ballfield, sitting in the stands, with his ubiquitous mustache jumping up and down as he sketched an athlete in motion.

He also was well known for the art he produced for Playboy magazine, but it is in sports that he really became most known for.

I can't write much more about him because, quite frankly, I am not one of those people who go to art galleries and marvel at what I see. I kind of find that a bit boring and, well, a bit snobby, too.

Heck, one of my art teachers in school, when I was about 11 or 12, actually told me that I had no artistic talent at all.

Based on that, you can say, "What do I know about art," and maybe I know very little, but I knew Neiman.

As a sports fan myself, I know that he was able to transfer the kinetic energy of sport onto a canvas better than anyone.

So in passing, Neiman's legacy will live on in his paintings, his etchings, and his sense of sport.

If you are unfamiliar with his works, check them out on the Internet.

I think you will be surprised, and quite pleased with what you find.

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