DAPHNE, Ala. – The United States Sports Academy recently received a donation of three LeRoy Neiman Olympic art posters to its American Sport Art Museum & Archives (ASAMA), expanding one of the museum’s most popular collections among visitors.
The posters, which feature the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, were donated to ASAMA by Mobile, Ala., resident Harry R. Fisher. The posters feature swimming and gymnastics and were distributed by Fisher’s former employer, ARAMARK, to commemorate the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, which were hosted in Seoul, South Korea.
“I had this wonderful LeRoy Neiman art hanging in my house for many years and I have enjoyed it greatly,” Fisher said. “But now it is time for visitors to the American Sport Art Museum and Archives to enjoy it as much as I have.”
The Academy presented Neiman with its 2007 Sport Artist of the Year Award and several of his pieces are featured prominently in the Neiman Room adjacent to the Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich Gallery on the Academy campus. Neiman is credited by many as being the inventor of contemporary sport art. He died in 2012 at the age of 91.
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 images of boxing, hockey, fencing and many others.
It is the second recent gift to ASAMA’s Neiman collection. Fairhope resident Jeff Hosterman recently donated an autographed print of Neiman’s “Portrait of a Tiger” to the Academy. Hosterman 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, 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.
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.
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.