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Silkscreens from LeRoy Neiman's Archives at Franklin Bowles Galleries
LeRoy Neiman, Satchmo, Serigraph, 25.25 x 38 inches. Photo: Courtesy Franklin Bowles Gallery.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Franklin Bowles Galleries presents NEIMAN 2010, a major collection of silkscreens from LeRoy Neiman’s personal archives, accompanied by rare original paintings and works on paper created over the past 50 years.

As one of America’s most-collected living artists, Mr. Neiman began his career as a printmaker in the late 1960s. Although Neiman’s output of silkscreens has been prolific—he favors the medium for its ability to capture the vibrant colors, immediacy and movement of his paintings—the artist is also an accomplished practitioner in the fields of etching and lithography. In 1996, The LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies was founded at Columbia University in New York City through a generous endowment from the artist and his wife, Janet; its mission is to promote printmaking through education and the production and exhibition of prints.

NEIMAN 2010 is a dramatic examination of the connection between Neiman’s paintings and prints. By allowing audiences to explore the artist’s major prints alongside original paintings and works on paper, the exhibition displays the entire spectrum of tension between abstraction and figuration, which is crucial to understanding the career of this oft-overlooked American master. Even in his most objective renderings, be they of high society, animals on safari or the urban jungle, Neiman’s pictures—paintings and silkscreens in almost like measure—betray their seeming objectivity again and again by renderings which totter precariously upon the precipice of abstraction, while still maintaining their general identifiability. His most successful pictures tend to blur these lines in ways that draw out qualities in the material—sound, action and a gamut of emotions—unavailable to, say, the traditions of photography or photo-realist painting. And yet the qualities Neiman’s art provides by retaining some vestige of the objective also lends his work a dimension perhaps absent from even the best Abstract Expressionist works. In this respect, one cannot help but recall the return to figuration within abstraction launched by a small, important group of California artists in the 1950s – including David Park, Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff.

The exhibition includes a number of the artist’s most sought-after silkscreens; from the monumental Elephant Stampede of 1976, to P.J. Clarke’s, 1978, F.X. McRory’s Whiskey Bar, 1980, California Cuisine, 1996, Frank at Rao’s, 2005, and Resting Lion, 2008, among many others.

More than eighty original works by LeRoy Neiman are also included in the exhibition. Highlights include a large portrait of Frank Sinatra done on the set of the 1967 film Tony Rome, portraits in acrylic and enamel of jazz heavyweights Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald, several important paintings from the Playboy corporate collection, as well as a substantial panorama, rendered in beguiling earth tones, of the paddock at Arlington racetrack from the year 1957.

LeRoy Neiman was born on June 8, 1921 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and raised in a rough blue-collar neighborhood. Early on LeRoy Neiman became a "street kid," in his words. He attended a Roman Catholic primary school, where, he says, "I was always drawing pictures and getting special treatment... showing off, copping out of other things." During recess periods he would inscribe pen-and-ink tattoos on his classmates' arms.

A teacher at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 10 years early in his career, after studying there, Neiman also gained wide recognition as contributing artist for Playboy, in the 1950s. Many of his images of what he calls "the good life," have appeared in the form of etchings, lithographs, silkscreen prints, and sculptures as well as paintings, in the permanent collections of public and private museums and other institutions worldwide. These institutional acquisitions, along with sales of approximately 150,000 of his silkscreen prints to individuals, attest to the enormous appeal of his work. "Whether one approves of Neiman's work or not, one must agree that he is a work of art himself," Stan Isaacs declared in New York Newsday, in a reference to Neiman's colorful public persona. "I guess I created LeRoy Neiman," the artist once said. "Nobody else told me how to do it. Well, I'm a believer in the theory that the artist is as important as his work."

Neiman’s work can be found in numerous museums in the United States, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as internationally at museums such as the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Franklin Bowles Galleries | NEIMAN 2010 | LeRoy Neiman |

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