Friday, June 08, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Happy 91st to LeRoy Neiman!

LeRoy Neiman. Today is his 91st birthday - born 8 June 1921.

I was unfamiliar with this American artist, I suspect his work appeals more to male art fanciers than to females. A glance through a page of his work on Google Image indicated to me that he is a painter of similar type to last Friday's subject, Raoul Dufy: a happy artist. Neiman's art portrays more dynamic energy than the serene atmosphere which was Dufy's signature, but his colours are equally arresting, and Neiman has credited Dufy as having been an early influence.

There's no gloom in Neiman's paintings. His art speaks of action, good times, enjoyment, people at sport and at leisure; not forgetting several animal studies.

More examples below.

As in Dufy's case, art critics have not been kind to Neiman. I doubt that he cares -he's successful, with a long (50+ years) marriage, happy and wealthy. He and his wife live in New York. Their penthouse home overlooks Central Park. It was owned at one time by Norman Rockwell, at another by Rudolph Valentino. The penthouse has double-height ceilings with wonderful views of Central Park.

LeRoy Neiman was born in St Paul, Minnesota, into a working class family of Turkish/Swedish background; abandoned by his father early on he took the surname of a later stepfather. His natural artistic talent was honed at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago on the G.I. Bill after his military service in World War II. He then taught for 10 years while exhibiting his work.

A long-running asscoiation with Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine was what brought Neiman's talent to a much wider public. Hefner saw his paintings of people in pursuit of pleasure, sport, nightlife, gambling and was hooked.

From a 1995/6 article by Nancy Wolfson
...Thus began a personal and professional association with Hefner and his soon-to-be-empire. In 1958, Neiman began a monthly feature for Playboy called "Man At His Leisure." It would expose him to a style of living a world apart from the struggle-to-survive, street-gang life that he was raised in. For the next 15 years he globe-trotted, observing the rich at play in the world's most glamorous watering holes and sporting spots, delivering to Playboy his impressions of what he saw. Whether it was the Grand Prix auto race in Monaco, the Regatta of the Gondoliers in Venice, or the Super Bowl in Miami, Neiman was there. Gambling at Baden-Baden, sipping brandy at Claridge's and sketching at Fouquet's--always with a long cigar--Neiman not only painted the dream life; he began living it as well.
And the tide has never turned! He has become one of the 20th century's most successful illustrators. He has met and mingled with most sports luminaries of the 20th century, as well as celebrities in other spheres. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the world, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Hermitage in Leningrad.

A piece by Corey Kilgannon in the New York Times from July last year indicated that Neiman "still paints and draws daily in the same bright, bold style, and in the spacious studio in his longtime Central Park West finishing up his autobiography, which he promises is chock full of his personal encounters with athletes, and their reactions to him."


I can find no time of birth, the chart above is set for 12 noon. Rising sign will not be as shown. Moon would be between middle and end degrees of Cancer whatever the time of birth.

Once again the key to this artist's style is easy to see: Sun conjunct Mars. Mars represents energy, dynamism.... and sport. Venus, planet of the arts is in its sign of rulership, Taurus: his natural talent for drawing and painting.

The other stand-out piece of this natal chart is what astrologers call a T-square. A 180* opposition (here it's from Jupiter in Virgo to Uranus in Pisces, both planets form 90* square angles to Sun in Gemini. This configuration is thought to represent an inner tension, not necessarily negative though, it can, and in Neiman's case I think does, represent the dynamic tension which manifests in his work. His T-square involves mutable signs: Gemini at the apex, with Virgo and Pisces in opposition. Virgo and Gemini are both ruled by communications planet Mercury, so are not as contradictary as might be expected, they can sometimes complement one another in fact, I think it is so in this case. Virgo's perfectionism and Gemini's quick mind combine, while Uranus adds an unexpected quirky edge. I can see his art style reflected here.

I'd suspected I might find his natal Moon to be in show-bizzy Leo, but it just doesn't make it into that sign. Instead Moon is in its own sign of rulership, Cancer: sensitive and intuitive. In researching this post I recall seeing a remark about Neiman's aim to always paint any portrait subject in the most flattering way he could, as opposed to 19th century impressionists who enjoyed painting women's portraits, especially, au naturel - without makeup or adornment. This kind of sensitivity from Neiman to the feelings of his subjects reflects his Moon in Cancer.

Gabriela Sabatini

The Catch

The Beatles

Frank Sinatra

Stud Poker

Belmont Stakes

LINK to The Official LeRoy Neiman Website
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DC said...
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Anonymous said...


Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~~ Yes - the death of LeRoy Neiman was reported on Wednesday 20 June 2012, 12 days after his 91st birthday.

Rick Appelquist said...

Do you know the names of the celebrities in Neiman's Baden Baden? I am aware of Neiman himself, Donald Trump, Truman Capote, Shelley Winters, and Lauren Bacall. Best, Rick A

Twilight said...

Rick Applequist ~ I can't help, sorry! I've done a quick Google-search, it brought up nothing - but I guess you'd already done the same. :-)
Maybe, over time, someone else, someone with inside knowledge, will happen across this post and enlighten us.