Alice Neel (1900-1984) was an American realist painter who gained recognition for her expressive and honest portraits. Throughout her career, she used an expressionistic style of line and color, penetrating the psychological acumen of her subjects with emotional intensity. However, Neel’s works were largely overlooked for the first forty years of her career but have been shown widely from the 1960s onwards.
One of Neel’s defining characteristics was her inclination to depict people in their natural element. She painted compelling portraits of not only her family members but also prominent figures in American politics and art circles. Through these works, she explored issues relating to identity, social and racial inequalities, gender disparities, and trauma.
Neel’s unique approach lay in how she penetrated beyond the physical appearance of figures she depicted to recreate their inner character and emotions on canvas. This technique has made a lasting impression on art history as it offers an uncommon insight into human nature that transcends time.
Despite struggling with poverty for much of her life as well as personal tragedies including a mentally ill husband who left their children to be raised by Neel alone after fleeing to Cuba during The Great Depression, Alice Neel persevered with an individual voice which elevated portraiture from mechanical picture-making into meaningful expressions about what it means “to be”.
All Alice Neel Artwork on Artchive
|Andy Warhol||1970||Oil on Canvas|
|Self-Portrait||1980||Oil on Canvas|
|Linda Nochlin and Daisy||1973||Oil on Canvas|
|Margaret Evans Pregnant||1978||Oil on Canvas|
|Nancy and the Rubber Plant||1975||Oil on Canvas|
|The Soyer Brothers||1973||Oil on Canvas|