LeRoy Neiman, a globetrotting artist whose celebrity often eclipsed that of the famous athletes and entertainers he portrayed in vibrantly colored, boldly expressive paintings, died June 20 at a hospital in New York. He was 91.
Mr. Neiman’s signature style included sheets of splashy color, yet the central figures of his paintings always remained recognizable and full of vigor. Though seldom loved by critics, his bright, colorful artworks managed to capture the glamour, spectacle and drama of sports.
Of all the sports he was asked to cover, Mr. Neiman said there was only one he refused to paint: professional wrestling. Once, in Canada, he was sketching the wrestler Mad Dog Vachon at ringside, when Mad Dog tore up his drawings.
“Next thing I know, I’m yelling at him and, all of a sudden, he throws me into the ring, then picks me up and starts spinning me over his head,” Mr. Neiman recalled in 1995.
“I’m seeing the arena lights go round and round and round and the crowd is going crazy and then ‘ooof!’ he tosses me out of the ring onto the floor. I messed up my arm.
“That was it. I wanted nothing to do with wrestling any more.”