The Who2 Blog

Maybe LeRoy Neiman Wasn’t So Bad After All

Portrait of Frank Sinatra by LeRoy Neiman (image supplied by WENN)

Art critics didn’t love the best-selling artist Leroy Neiman, but Jerry Saltz changed his tune after sharing the dais with him at a college commencement:

“As I sat there and watched him looking up, over, and down, taking it all in, attentively drawing all the while, my ideas of him changed. I suddenly saw Neiman as an example of something I’d just told the graduates that they might aspire toward. LeRoy Neiman was his own artist, someone whose style — mishmash or not — had mysteriously selected him. He then perfected it and took it as far as he possibly could, unashamed, with acceptance, joy, brio, experimentation, and boundless generosity. I knew I didn’t like Neiman’s art much more, but I no longer felt snide or cynical about it. Or him.”

Now, was that so hard?

I like that line about how Neiman’s style “mysteriously selected him.” If logic ruled the world, we’d all have the same calling. Luckily, we don’t. So why knock someone for pursuing the art that makes them happy — either as a creator or as a viewer?

Saltz wasn’t so generous in his post-mortem of Thomas Kinkade:

“The reason the art world doesn’t respond to Kinkade is because none — not one — of his ideas about subject-matter, surface, color, composition, touch, scale, form, or skill is remotely original. They’re all cliché and already told… Kinkade’s paintings are worthless schmaltz, and the lamestream media that love him are wrong.”


Why I Liked (and Even Respected) LeRoy Neiman »

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