Happy birthday Alice Neel!

Alice Neel

The American artist Alice Neel (1900 – 1984) shares her birthday with  the Dripper himself, Jackson Pollock.  I’ve already celebrated his birthday last year HERE.  Neel’  is especially famous for her portraits.  As a woman artist she had her work cut out to become known, but  as well as talent, she did have  a political voice and self awareness.  She  painted lots of famous people including Andy Warhol.  I love the  expressionistic work of this artist.  She seems to capture the inner as well as the outer being – through her we get a glimpse into the models inner self..  

alice neel Robert Smithson

Neel’s  subjects include motherhood, political figures, landscapes and celebrities of the time.  She even painted the famous feminist activist Kate Millet, for the cover of times magazine in 1970.

Kate Millet by Alice Neel

Neel involved herself in radical social movements, she had a voice’ and was well respected.  Her life was very up and down and at times she did know despair.  But she turned her tragedy into triumph ultimately and this I think is what gave her such empathy with her sitters.  She called her sitters her ‘selection of souls’   She was very much  interested in the inner being and tried to show this in her paintings –  always striving to get to the core or essence of the sitter whether they were famous or not:-

Andy Warhol by Alice Neel

Like Chekhov, I am a collector of souls… if I hadn’t been an artist, I could have been a psychiatrist. (Alice Neel)

alice neel two girls spanish harlem

She painted well into her eighties, even doing a self-portrait of herself.  Her life story is both sad and yet inspiring, exciting and varied –  but always the artist within comes to the surface.  No wonder she is still an inspiration to women artists today!

I do not know if the truth that I have told will benefit the world in any way. I managed to do it at great cost to myself and perhaps to others. It is hard to go against the tide of one’s time, milieu, and position. But at least I tried to reflect innocently the twentieth century and my feelings and perceptions as a girl and a woman. Not that I felt they were all that different from men’s.” (Alice Neel.com)

 Alice Neel website HERE

Good art quotes to be had HERE

Like these artists birthdays?  I have MORE – look in my categories


6 thoughts on “Happy birthday Alice Neel!

  1. Thank-you, thank-you. I was not aware of this artist. I really can get into that one on Smithson and look at it forever, I think. There is soul in her work. ….and the impression of each of them having an intricate individuality from the other one.

  2. I know Leslie, bit excited myself! Had heard of her but somehow hadn’t looked that closely. Today is the birthday of three artists, Pollock, who I’ve already written about, Claes Oldenberg, (who I do like) but decided to go with Neel when I read more about her and looked more into her work. Her Smithson is really something – I love the honesty of that type of work. Her life story is very interesting too. Incredible that she was still painting in her eighties. Check out her self portrait – so pure and honest. Major respect.

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