LeRoy Neiman – George Halas Sketch, circa 1970
Matted and framed
Signed at the bottom by the artist
Size: 20.5 x 19’ inches
Image size: 12.25 x 10.25’ inches
Certificate of Authenticity included: Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from SGC
No artist has ever captured the essence and movement of athletes and the euphoria of sporting events quite like LeRoy Neiman. Known for his brash style, he painted every high-profile personality in every major venue, from backsides at race tracks to ringside at fights.
Football was one of Neiman’s first subjects. With a sketchpad under his arm, he would go to the games to capture the athletes in action. One of his early experiences was a Bears’ game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. In an attempt to get closer to the players, he snuck into the field, zigzagging his way to the sidelines. As he started sketching J.C. Caroline, the Bears’ running back, a guard came over to him. Just when he was about to be thrown out, George “Papa Bear” Halas, the team’s owner and coach appeared. He glanced at his sketches and said: “He stays!”.
Perhaps this early encounter inspired Neiman to create the sketch of the legendary coach we have on offer. George “Papa Bear” Halas, a co-founder of the NFL and founder of the Chicago Bears, was a man of iron will who had one of the most memorable coaching runs in sports history. The artist captured him in three poses, as he explains the strategy to a player. With expressionist strokes of the pencil, the artist perfectly captured the energy Halas was known for. The sketch is accompanied by notations “Turn on the lights, Halas” and “Halas”.
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About LeRoy Neiman
Named the most popular artist in the United States, LeRoy Neiman was best known for his vibrantly colored, dynamic depictions of sports and entertainment. This painter of “the good life” had the unprecedented skill to capture a figure in motion, while his genre scenes appealed to the broad public. He saw himself as an illustrator, even rather than a painter, while the pleasant moments from the everyday life he painted in a realistic manner.
Fusing action painting techniques with Pop Art and Impressionist and Expressionist elements, Neiman emerged as a master of color. He often used clean, unmixed nuances while his highly recognizable, brilliant palette developed. The color was his way of enhancing the experience, the scents, and feelings of the chosen subject.
LeRoy Neiman started his professional career in the 1950s during “the magazine era”, and subsequently created illustrations for many magazines. The most notable one of the publications holding his illustrations is Playboy, but his work was featured in Sports Illustrated and Harpers as well.
As the creator of vivid chronicles of the American life, Neiman became increasingly and widely popular, even though he was never fully accepted by the ‘haute’ critics, comparing him to Norman Rockwell. Nevertheless, he never ceased to work in the way he saw as best, captivating audiences with his skill, even painting on television! His works were exhibited at the Hammer Galleries in New York and the Franklin Bowles Gallery in San Francisco among other venues.
Although fame brought him immense wealth, Neiman - a child of the Great Depression, lived frugally. At the same time, he was very generous, having donated almost $20 million to different art institutions around the country. This “American Impressionist” also served as the official artist of 5 Olympic Games, and he painted many prestigious sporting events, from the Kentucky Derby to America’s Boxing Cup and Super Bowl. Among his portrait subjects, we can find many celebrities, politicians and influential figures from different areas.
LeRoy Neiman was born as LeRoy Runquist on June 8, 1921, in St. Paul, MN. He attended St. Paul School of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago after he completed military service. He lived in New York City, where he died on June 20, 2012, at the age of 91.