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