Author(s): Jeremy Lewison
This insightful catalogue examines anew the full range of Alice Neel's (1900-1984) celebrated paintings of people, still life, and cityscapes. Featuring around seventy paintings spanning the entire length of her career, this handsome book accompanies a major retrospective of her work, and reveals her underlying interest in the history of photography, German painting of the 1920s, and other artists, such as Van Gogh and Cezanne, all of which provided an important precedent for the veracity and raw emotional intensity of her figurative works. Neel is renowned for her visual acuity and psychological depth, and her portraits and nude paintings of friends, family, strangers, and prominent cultural figures alike convey an incredibly consistent intimacy regardless of the relationship to her subject. The accompanying essays trace the trajectory of Neel's artistic language as it evolved alongside contemporaneous trends in the New York City art world and examines the manner in which her own work figured into the social and cultural contexts of her time. Created over a sixty year period, Neel's oeuvre offers a remarkably expressive document of the specific milieus she navigated through and ultimately transcends the marker of time altogether.
Jeremy Lewison, formerly director of collections at Tate, is advisor to the Estate of Alice Neel. Susanna Pettersson is director of the Ateneum Art Museum.