Best known for his brilliantly colored, stunningly energetic images of sporting events and leisure activities, LeRoy Neiman was probably the most popular artist in the United States in his lifetime. The artistic style of the fabulously successful Neiman is familiar to a remarkably broad spectrum of Americans –“rich and poor, black and white, urban and rural, educated and illiterate,” and young and old alike. He was the official artist at five Olympiads. Millions of people have watched him at work: on ABC TV coverage of the Olympics,as CBS Superbowl computer artist, and at other major competitions, televised on location with his sketchbook and drawing materials, producing split-second records and highly developed images of what he is witnessing. “Before the camera, such reportage of history and the passing scene was one of the most important functions of painters and draftsmen of all sorts. Mr. Neiman has revived an almost lost and time-honored art form,” Carl J. Weinhardt observed in the catalog for the exhibition of Neiman’s 1972 Olympics sketches, which was mounted that year by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In the Christian Science Monitor (May 2, 1972), Nick Seitz wrote that Neiman, who has been labeled an American Impressionist, “has the journalistic talent, as well as the artistic ability, to convey the essence of a game or contestant with great impact, from the Kentucky Derby to Wilt Chamberlain, from the America’s Cup to Muhammad Ali, from the Super Bowl to Bobby Hull.”
A member of the New York City Advisory Commission for Cultural Affairs since 1995, Neiman has received four honorary degrees and, among other honors, an Award of Merit from the American Athletic Union (1976), a Gold Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement (1977), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (1986). Through the years he has donated scores of his artworks to charitable organizations, and in 1995 he gave the School of the Arts at Columbia University, in New York City, a gift of a substantial amount to create the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. In 2008 LeRoy funded a new center in Harlem for children of the area to profit from art classes and after school activities called the Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center. In 2009, LeRoy was awarded with both the first Honorary Professorship of the Arts at Columbia University and the prestigious Order of Lincoln at the Lincoln Bicentennial Convocation in Springfield, IL.