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Alice Neel

1900-1984 (USA)

ALICE NEEL IS TODAY CONSIDERED ONE OF THE GREATEST AMERICAN FIGURATIVE PAINTERS OF THE 20TH CENTURY. YET THE APPRECIATION IS TO SOME EXTENT RETROSPECTIVE. IN HER LIFETIME, NEEL WAS SOMETHING OF AN OUTLIER, A WOMAN ARTIST WHOSE STRONG OPINIONS, COMPLEX PERSONAL LIFE AND SOCIALIST LEANINGS SAT UNCOMFORTABLY WITH THE NEW YORK ART WORLD OF THE PERIOD. DESPITE THE RESISTANCE, NEEL PERSISTED. HER EARLY WORK CAPTURES THE SOCIETY AROUND HER, THE POVERTY OF HARLEM, THE INTIMACY OF FAMILY AND HER OWN ACADEMIC, AMOROUS AND CREATIVE COTERIE. HER LATER WORK, PREDOMINANTLY PORTRAITURE, REVEALS NEEL’S INSIGHTFUL EYE, ONE WHICH SEES THROUGH HER SUBJECTS - FROM ART STARS TO NEIGHBOURS - IN FAST DETERMINED BRUSHSTROKES, COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS TO TREND. ALICE NEEL CONTINUES TO BE DISCOVERED AND RE-DISCOVERED. SHE WAS MOST RECENTLY THE SUBJECT OF A MAJOR RETROSPECTIVE AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART (2021).