Influential 20th century American painter Alice Neel, 1900–1984, is best known for her portraits of celebrated artists and writers from New York, including Andy Warhol, Frank O’Hara, Meyer Shapiro and Linda Nochlin.
Neel reinvigorated the traditions of portraiture at a time when the predominance of abstract art and the male white painter went largely unchallenged. Her portraits stand out for their psychological insight as much as for their vivid sense of colour and animated brushwork. As well as famous subjects Neel was equally interested in those marginal to mainstream society from Harlem’s immigrant communities to children and the elderly.
Concentrating on her work as a portraitist, the exhibition is structured thematically in a way that mirrors the artist’s way of thinking: the Allegory, the Essential Portrait, the Psychological Portrait, Portraits from Memory, Parents and Children, Nudes, the Detached Gaze and Old Age. A focused selection of cityscapes alongside the concentration on the human form manifests not only Neel’s attachment to the city of New York but her own predicament as a woman artist confined to the domestic environment.
Spanning nearly seven decades and bringing together more than sixty of her most important works from a host of international public and private collections, this is Neel’s first major exhibition of works in Europe.
An award-winning documentary film, directed by her grandson, Andrew Neel is showing in the Zilkha Auditorium
Alice Neel Painted Truths:[FT.COM]