DAPHNE, Ala. – A Fairhope resident has donated an autographed tiger print by famed sport artist LeRoy Neiman to the United States Sports Academy’s American Sport Art Museum & Archives (ASAMA).
Jeff Hosterman donated “Portrait of a Tiger” to the Academy, which honored Neiman with its 2007 Sport Artist of the Year Award. Neiman, credited by many as the inventor of contemporary sport art, died in 2012 at the age of 91. ASAMA has several of his works on display.
Hosterman recently moved to Fairhope after retiring from the electronic banking industry in Atlanta. He said a visit to ASAMA as a new resident in the community inspired him to make the gift.
“The American Sport Art Museum and Archives is a beautiful place,” he said.
“The museum is the right place for this art, not at my home, so people can enjoy it with the rest of the great art here.”
“Portrait of a Tiger” depicts a colorful tiger staring off the canvas and stalking in the grass, featuring bright oranges, yellows and greens. The donor noted that the tiger is the mascot of his alma mater, Princeton University. He said some might associate the gift with the Auburn University mascot, which would complement another of the more popular Neiman prints at ASAMA – an image of legendary University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Neiman’s other works on display at ASAMA include a collection of watercolor prints representing numerous sports in the 1972 Munich Olympics, as well as with images of boxing, hockey, fencing and many others.
Neiman, a colorful and entertaining artist instantly recognized by his handlebar mustache, became widely known with his appearances on live television painting athletes at the very moments that they were competing in the Olympics. He painted brilliantly colored, stunningly energetic images of the sports world, capturing its motion and emotion in his brushstrokes.
Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, who founded ASAMA in 1984, praised Neiman for his ability to portray sport action quickly through a variety of mediums.
“LeRoy Neiman’s name is synonymous with sport art,” Dr. Rosandich said. “When anyone would talk about sport art, they would inevitably mention his name. No one contributed more to sport art than he did with his presence on TV turning out great art. He was just as colorful as his paintings.”
Neiman was the official artist at five Olympiads, including creating on-the-spot images on live television during the 1972 Summer Games in Munich and the 1976 Games in Montreal. Neiman was the official artist of the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid in 1980 and in Sarajevo in 1984, as well as the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.
Neiman found a niche in sport art that was untouched and pioneered the genre with great enthusiasm.
“For an artist, watching Joe Namath throw a football or Willie Mays hit a baseball is an experience far more overpowering than painting a beautiful woman or leading political figure,” Neiman once said. “Concentrating on sports has helped me because I couldn’t refer back to past movements. There hasn’t been any sports art to speak of. I’ve had the field pretty much to myself.”
His role in pop culture spanned for decades, creating works for Playboy magazine since its inception in 1954. The series “Man at His Leisure” appeared in the magazine for 15 years, and included his impressions of events, such as the Grand Prix in Monaco, the Beatles in London and the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
Neiman’s powerful imagery of boxing, especially of Muhammad Ali, earned him induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007. His paintings and sketches of Ali during 15 years of the prizefighter’s boxing career permanently reside at the LeRoy Neiman Gallery at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. He was so closely identified with the world of boxing that actor/director Sylvester Stallone tapped Neiman to appear in four of his “Rocky” movies.
The St. Paul, Minn., native’s works are in many private and public museums, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., which Neiman selected to house his archives.
Founded in 1984 and located on the Academy campus, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,800 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.