Best known for his brilliantly colored, stunningly energetic images of sporting events and leisure activities, LeRoy Neiman might have been one of the most popular living artists in the United States before his passing in 2012. From Jan. 22-April 14, a large selection of his works will be loaned to Muskingum University by The LeRoy Neiman Foundation and displayed in Ohio for the first time.
From Joe Montana preparing a pass to dancers contorting their bodies on stage, the exhibition, entitled “Action! An Exhibition of LeRoy Neiman’s Champions,” features 74 paintings and drawings that demonstrate Neiman’s mastery of the graphic arts and his unique ability to capture motion. “Action!,” offered free to the public, is presented by Muskingum University and Kessler Sign Company, and will reside in two display areas on campus, the Louis O. Palmer Gallery and Philip & Betsey Caldwell Hall.
“For many art enthusiasts and casual observers alike, Neiman’s works, which often feature brilliant and bright strokes of magentas, yellows and greens, will be instantly familiar,” said Muskingum University President Susan S. Hasseler. “It is our distinct pleasure to host such an incredible display of his original works, and we encourage visitors of all ages to come to our campus and see them in person.”
Neiman was born in 1921 in Duluth, Minnesota, a child of the Great Depression. He enlisted in the U.S. military in 1942, fighting in the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. When he returned home, he attended Chicago’s School of the Art Institute on the G.I. Bill. Over the years he befriended many major sports figures and celebrities, including Muhammad Ali and Frank Sinatra, and was often seen on live TV during major athletic events. In addition to athletic subjects, he also painted U.S. presidents, jazz musicians and animals and authored 15 books.
“I’m a storyteller—only I tell my stories in a riot of color,” Neiman once said. “I paint battle scenes like the baccarat tables at Monte Carlo, matador vs. bull, Ali vs Frazier. I paint scenes where the underdog triumphs… I paint superheroes…”
As part of the exhibition, Muskingum University will host several special events, including:
- “American Expressionism,” a faculty chamber music concert featuring the world premiere of a composition that was inspired by select Neiman works, at 7:30 p.m. (a pre-lecture by composer Dr. Michael Rene Torres begins at 7 p.m.) on Friday, March 16, 2018 in Philip & Betsey Caldwell Hall;
- And the world premiere of an original devised theatre performance, also inspired by select Neiman works, at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, 2018 in Philip & Betsey Caldwell Hall. Additional performances will be held at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, 2018.
Exhibition hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays; and 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The exhibition is closed on Sundays.
For more information about “Action!,” the Neiman exhibition at Muskingum University, visit muskingum.edu/neiman, and join the conversation using #NeimanAtMU.