b. 1900 (Merion Square, PA) - 1984 (New York, NY).
1925 Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design)
Alice Neel's figurative paintings are intimate explorations of her personal life, oftentimes depicting her family, circle of friends and acquaintances, and a variety of New York locals she met during her life, as the subject matter. These spontaneous and dynamic works provide insight into her environments, exterior and interior. In them, she positions universal themes, such as motherhood, death, and longing, within the sphere of her private existence and her social consciousness.
While a handful of her works include urban cityscapes and familiar domestic settings, the majority are portraits. Neel, the self-named "Collector of Souls," never posed her sitters when she composed her portraits. Instead, she studied and spoke intimately with her subjects as they unconsciously assumed their most natural attitude, which she believed exhorted all their character and life experience. She then created images from her succinct impression and assembled memory of each subject. Consequently, in each work, the subject occupies space in a different way. The sitter's personality is fully expressed by distinctly innate gestures - the set of their bodies, the curl of their fingers, a twist of a wrist, the turn of their shoulders, a slight contortion of the morth, or the angle of a glance. These elements, along with Neel's signature style, coalesce into her unique impression of the person.
Through her forthright and at times humorous touch, her work engaged with ongoing political and social issues, including gender, racial inequality, and labor struggles.
Neel was born 1900 in Merion Square, Pennsylvania, and died 1984 in New York. From the 1960s onwards, her work was exhibited widely in the United States. She had her first retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1974, and the Whitney mounted another solo exhibition of her work in 2000, which traveled to the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Denver Art Museum, Colorado.
In 2013, the first major presentation of the artist's watercolors and drawings was on view at Nordiska Akvarellmuseet in Skärhamn, Sweden. In 2010, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Texas organized a major survey, Alice Neel: Painted Truths, which traveled to Whitechapel Gallery, London, and Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden. Her work was presented in a solo exhibition in 2011 at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, which formed part of the Dublin Contemporary 2011, Terrible Beauty – Art, Crisis, Change & The Office of Non-Compliance.
Work by the artist is represented in major museum collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Tate, London; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; among others.
2010 - present
2010 - present