Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alice Neel (Slater's Pick)

Alice Neel was born in Philidelphia in 1900 and lived until 1984.  She is often recognized as one of the great American painters.   While Neel painted landscapes and still lives, she is most known for her portraits.  Her paintings can be distinguished for their playful use of line and color creating expressions of emotional intensity.
Neel was received her degree in art at the Philadelphia School of Design.  Neel is described as a "painter with a strong social conscience and equally strong left-wing beliefs." In the 1930s Neel packed up her belongings and embraced the diversity of Greenwich Village, NY.  She became an activate participant for the Work Progress Administration by painting urban landscapes.  In 1938, Neel moved again, taking her career to Spanish Harlem, painting the Puerto Rican community as well as neighbors, acquaintances and people in passing.  In the 1960s, Neel continued to paint "political personalities, including black activists and supporters of the women's movement."  Neel became a role model for women for supporters of the feminist movement.
I am very moved by Neel's success and devotion to making artwork that is aesthetically pleasing while maintaining a balance of "social conscience " in conjunction with her liberal themes.  

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audrey said...

these portraits are all really emotionally charged. it's all in their eyes since most of them are focused on you, the viewer. while rendering someone's features perfectly is impressive and beautiful, sometimes it's nice to remember that that is not most important. the eyes and the emotional quality left behind for us is. Neel's works portray this well.

Janna said...

Oh I'm glad you picked her... I was just thinking a while ago about how your work reminds me of Alice Neel's.

Jenny said...

I think that this artist works well for you in that you have been focusing on expressions in the human face. You also mention Neel has worked with “people in passing,” something I know is your intent as well. You mentioned you work from people who come across in your life (some you may know better than others). There is an emotion to Neel’s paintings through their almost “quiet” faces. The pictures you posted show closed mouths, but it is in their eyes and position that explains it well for me. The woman with her baby is a very powerful image. I get an immediate feeling of surprise and protection from the mother.