The Art of Alice Neel

For those who like biographies, especially of artists and their often twisted lives; for those who enjoy looking at contemporary portraits; and for unabashed fans of the artist Alice Neel, I thought I’d point you toward some online resources that can enhance my review in America of Phoebe Hoban’s biography, Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty.

To see examples of her work, without much commentary, try www.aliceneel.com, the paintings in her estate, where you can quietly and unhurriedly browse decade by decade and linger over your favorite paintings.

Advertisement

There are a number of short, quality videos on YouTube well worth watching. We feature here a snippet of video by Paul Tschinkel, which features an interview with an elderly Neel the year she died. The artist still has a lot of natural beauty and has not lost her candor, wit, or humor. An art historian and an art critic add their views of her and her legacy.

To see a silent demonstration of Neel painting a young sitter, try this link.

The video “Alice Neel" is the official trailer of a documentary made by Neel’s own relative. It features her two sons, friends, and major artists like Chuck Close and even shows Neel inside her own apartment, stacked with canvases, and in the act of painting. There are also photos of her as a child and lovely young woman. I have seen the full documentary, which is moving and disturbing.

Karen Sue Smith

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Kang Dole
7 years 5 months ago
I hadn't heard of her prior to seeing her work a few years ago at a Soutine exhibit. I wish I had encountered her earlier; I will be seeing this.
7 years 5 months ago
Karen Sue,  I am one of the unabashed fans of Alice Neel's portraiture and I'm glad to learn more about her life from your links and especially your review of Phoebe Hoban's biography.  We only have one of her portraits at our art museum.  How I wish I could see an exhibit!  For now, I'll have to be content with pictures of her works.  For these, I am grateful.

Her life story is heart wrenching.  As a mother, myself, I can't imagine being faced with a choice between career and keeping my child.  A daughter, at that and she a feminist.  How hard our society has made it for women to make such critical choices.  Many of my generation did as I did:  education and beginning career, motherhood and then career, again.  As my children still live with me , I combined career and motherhood for a number of years before I retired.  Each woman has to make such difficult choices.  Supermom or Good-Enough mother.  But, to abandon one's child must be the most awful choice of all.
Juan Lino
7 years 5 months ago
I've been fortunate enough to actually see a few of the original paintings and even though I have several catalogues of her work, I look forward to reading the book.   The link to her painting a portrait was fantastic  - thanks for posting it.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Father Michael Nixon and parishioner work a volunteer table at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla. Photo by Atena Sherry.
Much like New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, the low-income neighborhoods east of Panama City, where St. Dominic is located, were especially hard-hit by the storm. Now residents here are desperate for help.
Atena SherryOctober 18, 2018
“I believe there are adequate, alternative options for true women’s health care out there, and Planned Parenthood is not needed,” said Alisha Fox, a health and wellness coach at a Catholic fertility center in Chicago.
Colleen ZeweOctober 18, 2018
 Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa checks out the name badge of Nathanael Lamataki, a youth delegate from the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as they leave a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Souraphiel highlighted the role globalization plays in connecting young people in unjust ways.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 18, 2018
The pope said he would visit North Korea “if an official invitation arrives.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 18, 2018