Alice Neel’s 1970 portrait of Pop artist Andy Warhol is a notable piece in the Met’s retrospective. Neel was a famed American realist, and her portrait of Warhol depicts him with his eyes closed and shirtless, exposing his scarred torso and supportive corset. Although controversial at the time, the painting is now considered to be an important piece of art history.
Warhol quickly rose to fame for his works featuring commercial goods, celebrities, and religion. In contrast, Neel was known for her portraits of friends, family, lovers, poets, artists and strangers using expressionistic line and color. The emotional intensity of her portraits showcases psychological acumen making them stand out in their authenticity.
Neel painted the portrait when she was 70 years old and hitting her stride as an important American realist painter. It is one of approximately 100 paintings, drawings and watercolors featured in the Met’s retrospective showcasing Neel’s talent for capturing human emotion on canvas.