Alice Neel (January 28, 1900 – October 13, 1984) was an American painter known for her portraits, which often depicted her subjects in a raw and honest manner. She is considered one of the most important portrait painters of the 20th century. Neel’s distinctive style combined elements of expressionism and realism, capturing the psychological and emotional aspects of her subjects.
Throughout her career, Neel painted a wide range of people, including friends, family members, fellow artists, neighbors, and strangers. Her portraits are characterized by their vivid colors, loose brushwork, and an emphasis on capturing the inner essence of the individuals she painted. She often portrayed her subjects in a candid and unidealized way, emphasizing their imperfections and vulnerabilities.
Neel’s work gained recognition and critical acclaim over time, and she became associated with various art movements such as Social Realism, Expressionism, and later, Feminist art. Despite facing personal and professional challenges, she continued to produce art that engaged with social issues and the human experience.
Alice Neel’s work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums, and her contributions to the art world continue to be celebrated for their emotional depth and insight into the human condition.
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1) Alice Neel, born in Merion Square, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1900 to October 13, 1984 (aged 84), was a visual artist, who was known for her portraits depicting friends, family, lovers, poets, etc.
2) After three years of work, taking art classes by night in Philadelphia, she enrolled in the fine art program at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art & Design) in 1921.
3) In her student works she rejected impressionism, the popular style at the time, and instead embraced the Ashcan School of Realism. It is believed this influence came from Robert Henri.
4) With the loss of husband & child, she suffered a massive nervous breakdown & continued to paint. During the Depression, she was one of the first artists to work for the Works Progress Administration.
5) The summer of 1930 was a period in her life she described “as one of her most productive” because she painted her earliest female nudes. She “satirized the notion & the standards of the female body.
6) In 1979, President Jimmy Carter presented her with a National Women’s Caucus for Art award for outstanding achievement. Her work was included in 2022 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.