Picks and Pans Review: Winners

updated 10/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by LeRoy Neiman

There he is on the jacket of this outsized volume, smoking a long cigar and showing off his gold jewelry and Dali-esque mustache. The first pages include photos of the artist chatting with Jimmy Carter and Joe Namath, steering a boat with his toe, sketching a blonde in Las Vegas and jogging in Central Park (with a cigar in his mouth?). The book is subtitled My Thirty Years in Sports, so it includes 1,000 paintings and sketches and more photos of Neiman doing drawings on location. He reminisces, too, but doesn't show razor-sharp memory. He "remembers" sketching a Chicago Bears game in 1963 when Dick Butkus incurred a career-ending injury; actually, Butkus was still at the University of Illinois in 1963. Some of Neiman's sketches of famous sports figures almost look like their subjects, but the paintings are awful—mostly because Neiman is addicted to neon shades of pink and green. Björn Borg, for example, has his arms smeared with red, orange, pale blue, green, yellow and pink clots of color. There are no bones in a Neiman-painted figure—the human body is just a mushy shape. It floats against other arbitrary, often garish colors. At the end, it is explained that "Every word in print or calligraphy, all drawings and paintings, reproduced in this book are by the hand of LeRoy Neiman." It's an unrelenting ego trip for one of this country's most overexposed, repetitive, unimaginative artists. (Abrams, $85)

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