His art is unique. It stands alone, without any real comparison. It is an art which has become controversial because Neiman has broken the barriers of many of the most hallowed assumptions of modern art history and contemporary criticism. It is an art that is loved by millions of people throughout America and around the world.
The above statement comes from the website of LeRoy Nieman who with the recently departed Thomas Kincaide served as lightning rods for criticism in the art world due to their mass market appeal and perceived kitschy qualities. LeRoy Nieman who was born LeRoy Runquist in St Paul, Minnesota adopted the surname of his stepfather after his father, a railway worker deserted his wife and child at a young age.
After serving in the army during WWII, Nieman got his break in 1954 when he met Hugh Hefner. Nieman did illustartions for the fifth issue of Playboy magazine and was to continue working there for the next 50 years. Nieman specialized in colorful paintings of women, animals, and sports figures which generally included backgrounds of patchs of red, yellow, and blue. His trademark creation was Femlin an illustrated black and white nude with gloves and stockings who appeared in the Party Jokes section of every issue of Playboy Magazine since the mid-fifties.
Shorty before his death Nieman’s biography All Told: My Art and Life Among Athletes, Playboys, Bunnies, and Provocateurs, was published on June 5, 2012