Alice Neel (American, January 28, 1900–October 13, 1984) is best known for her compelling portraits of her family members, as well as paintings featuring prominent figures from American political and artistic circles, created at a time when portraiture was considered out of fashion. Born outside of Philadelphia, PA, Neel studied art at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, developing an identity as a socially-conscious female artist in an era when women were expected to spend their lives as homemakers. She worked with the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s while living in New York, painting images of urban life and often depicting left-wing activists among her subjects. Neel moved to the Spanish section of Harlem, in hopes of finding greater truths among the subjects of the poverty-stricken Puerto Rican community. In the 1960s, she moved to the Upper West Side, and began painting portraits of curators, artists, and critics, including Meyer Shapiro, Robert Smithson (American, 1938–1973), and Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), in addition to activists from the civil rights movement and the women’s movement. Neel was an important role model to other female artists of her era, and she was honored with the International Women’s Year Award, the National Women’s Caucus for Art award, and was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. By the 1970s, Neel finally received critical recognition for her work, and was praised for her ability to portray subjects in candid, contemplative manner, embracing their idiosyncrasies and physical imperfections in monumental portraits, using broad, expressive brushstrokes. In 1984, Neel died in New York, at 84 years of age. Her work has been celebrated in retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among other institutions.

Timeline

1900
Born in Merion Square, PA. Raised in Colwyn,
1921–1925
Moore College of Art ( formerly: Philadelphia School of Design for Women)
1925–1927
Lived in Havana, Cuba with husband Carlos Enriquez / First show in Cuba.
1935
Joined WPA/Federal Art Project, Easel Division
1969
Received the Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York
1971
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Moore College of Art (formerly Philadelphia School of Design for Women), Philadelphia
1976
Elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters
1979
Received National Women's Caucus for Art Award for Outstanding Achievement in Art, presented by President Jimmy Carter
1984
Died October 13 in New York

Exhibitions

2013
Alice Neel: People and Places. Paintings by Alice Neel, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul (solo)
2013
Alice Neel, nordiska akvarellmuseet, Skärhamn (solo)
2013
To Be a Lady, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapur
2013
Art for Society's Sake: The WPA and Its Legacy, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
2012
Künstlerkinder, Kunsthalle Emden
2012
We the People, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York
2012
Alice Neel: Late Portraits and Still Lifes, David Zwirner, New York (solo)
2011
Alice Neel: Family, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (solo)
2011
Alice Neel: Men Only, Victoria Miro Gallery, London (solo)
2010
Painted Truths, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas / Whitechapel Gallery, London / Modern Museet Malmö, Malmö (solo)
2010
Self-Consciousness, Veneklasen/Werner, Berlin (catalogue)
2010
In the Company of Alice, Victoria Miro Gallery, London
2010
Paintings and Drawings, Aurel Scheibler/ScheiblerMitte, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2009
The Figure and Dr Freud, Haunch of Vision, New York
2009
The Female Gaze. Women Look at Women, Cheim and Read, New York
2009
Paint Made Flesh, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville
2009
Nudes of the 1930s, Zwirner & Wirth, New York (solo)
2009
Selected Works, David Zwirner, New York (solo)
2008
Collector of Souls, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (solo)
2008
Drawing from Life, Philadelphia, Moore College of Art and Design (solo)
2007
Pictures of People, Aurel Scheibler, Berlin (solo)
2007
Whack! Art and the Feminist Revolution, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles, 4 March - 16
2007
Alice Neel: A Cycle of Life, Victoria Miro, London (solo)
2007
Alice Neel: The Cycle of Life, Victoria Miro Gallery, London 23rd May – 21st July (solo)
2007
The Cycle of Life, Victoria Miro, London (solo)
2007
Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles (catalogue)
2007
The Naked Portrait, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
2007
I Am as You Will Be, Cheim and Read, New York
2006
The New Landscape/The New Still Life: Soutine and Modern Art, Cheim and Read, New York
2005
Alice Neel’s Women, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. 28 October 2005 – 15 January (solo)
2004
Alice Neel: A Chronicle of New York 1950-1976, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, 1 June – 31 July (solo)
2003
Pocket, Skulpturen unter der Lupe, Galerie Eugen Lendl, Graz (Kat.), Austria
2002
Pocket, Skulpturen unter der Lupe, Verein für Orginalradierung, Munich, Germany
2001
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 18 February to 15 April (solo)
2001
Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, 10 June to 2 September (solo)
2001
Denver Museum of Art, 6 October to 30 December (solo)
2001
Seachange, King´s College University, Aberdeen, Scotland
Connecting worlds – contemporary sculpture from the EU, Kennedy Center, Washington, USA
Die Cabinette des Dr. Czerny, Neue Galerie Graz, Austria
Days of hope, Venice Biennale, Italy
2001
Naked since 1950, C & M Arts, New York
2000
The Human Factor: Figuration in American Art, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln
2000
Alice Neel, organised by the Philadelphia Museum of Art Whitney Museum of American Art New York, 29 June to 17 September (solo)
2000
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, 6 October to 31 December (solo)
2000
Anableps, Studio Stefania Miscetti, Rome, italy
Delay, Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria
Lebt und arbeitet in Wien, Living and working in Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
Photographie - die Sammlung, Neue Galerie Linz, Austria
1999
K.U.L.M., Projekt Feuer, Pischelsdorf, steirische Herbst ´99
Rosa Für Jungs - Hellblau Für Mädchen, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, Germany
6/7, The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland
Remember Ansgar!, Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria
1999
In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O'Hara and American Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (catalogue)
1999
The American Century. Art & Culture 1950 - 2000, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (catalogue)
1999
Faces of Time: 75 Years of Time Magazine Cover Portraits, The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
1998
In Her Voice: Self Portraits by Women, Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art, Ursinus College, Collegeville
1998
Men in Suits, Cheim & Read, New York (solo)
1998
Men in Suits, Galerie Simonne Stern, New Orleans (solo)
1996–1998
Kinships: Alice Neel Looks at the Family, Tacoma Art Museum, traveled to Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland; Sheehan Gallery, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA; University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara; Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID; Museum of Art, Northampton; Art, Palm Beach (solo)
1997
Views from Abroad: European Persectives on American Art 3: American Realities, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 10 July to 5 October
1997
Paintings from the Thirties, Robert Miller Gallery, New York (solo)
1996
The Pregnant Nudes of Alice Neel, Robert Miller Gallery, New York (solo)
1996
Family Portraits and Other Works, Northfield Mount Herman Scholl (solo)
1996
Summer Group Show, Robert Miller Gallery, New York
1996
The Gathering of the Avant-Garde: The Lower East Side, 1950-1970, Kenkeleba Gallery New York
1995
Face Value: American Portraits, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
1995
Femininmasculin: Ie sexe de I'art, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1995
Voices of Conscience: Then and Now, A.CA Gallery, New York
1995
Femininmasculin: le se de l’art, Centre Georges Pompidou, 24 October 1995 to 12 February 1996
1995
The Complete Prints, The Gallery, Division of Art, Southern Methodist University, Dallas (solo)
1994
The Years in Spanish Harlem 1938-1961, Robert Miller Gallery, New York (solo)
1994
Face-Off: The Portrait in Recent Art, Institute of Contemporary Arts, University of Pennsylvania
1993
The Portrait Now, National Portrait Gallery, London (catalogue)
1993
The Portrait Now, National Portrait Gallery, London, 19 November to 6 February 1994
1993
Alice Neel, St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, St. Johnsbury (two paintings were shown at the St. Johnsbury Academy) (solo)
1992
Linda Cathcart Gallery, Santa Monica (solo)
1992
Alice Neel 'in Spanish Harlem': Paintings From 1948 to 1958, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (solo)
1991
Exterior/Interior: The Non-Figurative Work of Alice Neel, Tisch Gallery, Aidekman Arts Center, Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, NY (solo)
1991
Alice Neel in Spanish Harlem, Dia Center for the Arts, Bridgehampton, NY (solo)
1991
Philadelphia Juvenile: The Art of Future Past, The Levy Gallery for the Arts in Philadelphia, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia
1991
American Realism and Figurative Art: 1952-1990, The Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai
1990
Figuring the Body, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1990
National Association of Women Artists: 100 Years, The Albany Institute of History of Art, New York
1990
A Room with Soutine, Neel, Hockney, Freud, Ensor, Guston, Morley, Bacon,
1990
Kossoff, Basquiat, and de Kooning, Robert Miller Gallery, New York
1990
Print Retrospective 1966-1973, Sragow Gallery, New York (solo)
1989
Alice Neel and Diane Arbus: Children, curated by John Cheim, Robert Miller Gallery, New York (solo)
1989
Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move Into the Mainstream 1970-85, Cincinnati
1989
Art Museum, Cincinnati (catalogue)
1988
Just Like a Woman, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC (catalogue)
1988
One Hundred Years: A Centennial Celebration of the National Association of Women Artists, Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY
1988
The Face, The Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock (catalogue)
1987–1988
Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors, Jan Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, traveled to Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco (solo)
1987
Revealing the Spirit: Paintings by Alice Neel, Museum of Art, Olin Arts Center, Bates College, Lewiston, ME (solo)
1987
Paintings and Drawings, Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, Roslyn, NY (solo)
1987
American Art Today: The Portrait, The Art Museum at Florida International University
1987
The Expressionist Landscape: North American Modernist Painting, 1920-1947
1987
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama (catalogue)
1987
The Artist's Mother: Portraits and Homages, Heckscher Museum, Huntington, New York
1987
Frivolity and Mortality: The Tradition of Vanitas in Contemporary Painting, Sherry French, New York
1986
The Male Nude: Women Regard Men, Hudson Center Galleries, New York
1986
Contemporary American Still Life, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton
1986
Objects Observed, Summit Art Center, New Jersey
1986
Paintings and Drawings, Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, Roslyn, NY (solo)
1985
Alice Neel Perspectives series, Portland Art Museum, Portland (solo)
Paintings Since 1970, curated by John Cheim, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,
1985
The Figure in 20th-Century American Art: Selections from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York
1985
The Surreal City: 1930s-1950s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
1984
American Women Artists (Part I: 20th-Century Pioneers), Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
1984
Woman, Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illionois
1984
Elaine de Kooning and Alice Neel , Phoenix Gallery, New York
1984
The Human Condition: SFMOMA Biennial III , San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
1984
Robert Miller Gallery, New York (solo)
Makler Gallery, Philadelphia (solo)
1983
Alice Neel, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles (solo)
1983
Paintings, Suzanne Hilberry Gallery, Birmingham (solo)
Hope College de Pree Art Center and Gallery (solo)
Works from the 20's, 30's, 40's and more, Edith C. Blum Art Institute, Bard CollegeCenter, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (solo)
Phoenix Gallery, New York (solo)
1983
Eight Women/Still Life , New Britain Museum, New Britain, Connecticut
1983
Bewegung Bewegung , Staatliche Kunsthalle Berlin, Berlin
1983
The Painterly Figure , The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York
1983
Bewegung Bewegung , Staatliche Kunsthalle Berlin, Berlin
1983
Faces Since the 50's: A Generation of American Portraiture , Center Gallery, Bucknell University Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
1982
Homo Sapiens: The Many Images , The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut
1982
America 1931: The Artists View , Sierra Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada
1982
New Portraits: Behind Faces , Contemporary Art Center, The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio
1982
Non-Figurative Works: Still Lifes, Cityscapes, Landscapes, Interiors, Robert Miller
Gallery, New York (solo)
1981–1982
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (solo)
1981
Suzanne Hilberry Gallery, Birmingham, MI (solo)
Artist Union, Moscow (solo)
Bennington College, Bennington, VT (solo)
1981
The Human Form: Interpretations, Robert and Jane Myerhoff Gallery, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore
1981
Real, Really Real, Super Real: Directions in Contemporary American Realism, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas (catalogue)
1981
Inside Out: Self Beyond Likeness , Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport, California
1981
Contemporary American Realism Since 1960 , Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (catalogue)
1981
Still Life and Beyond , The Silvermine Guild of Artists, New Canaan, Connecticut
1981
Paintings of the Human Figure: Alice Neel and Anne Abrons , Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery, Bennington, Vermont
1981
The Figure , Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York
1980
Originals , Graham Gallery New York
1980
Aspects of the 70's: Directions in Realism , Danforth Museum, Framingham, Massachusetts (catalogue)
1980
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
Lancaster Community College, Lancaster (solo)
Sarah Institute, New York (solo)
Paintings of Two Decades, Boston University Art Gallery, Boston Drury College, Springfield, MA (solo)
1979
Middendorf Lane Gallery, Washington, DC (solo)
Akron Art Institute, Akron, OH (solo)
Williams College, Williamstown (solo)
Alice Neel: A Retrospective Showing, Guild of Artists, Silvermine, New Canaan, CT in combination with the University of Bridgeport, CT (solo)
1979
The Opposite Sex: A Realistic Viewpoint , University of Missouri, Kansas City
1979
Six Painters of the Figure: Alex Katz, Diana Kurz, Alfred Leslie, Alice Neel, Philip Pearlstein, Sylvia Sleigh, Fine Arts Gallery , Boulder (catalogue)
1979
Woman , Harold Reed Gallery, New York
1978
1, Sister Chapel , Queens, New York
1978
Drawings: Alice Neel, John Dobb, Summit Gallery New York
1978
American Painting of the 1970s , Albright-Knox Gallery Buffalo, New York
1978
Alice Neel: Retrospective Works on Paper 1926 - 1977, Virginia Miller Galleries, Coconut Grove (Miami), Florida
1978
Artemesia Gallery, Chicago, IL (solo)
Fort Lauderdale Museum, Fort Lauderdale, FL (solo)
1978
Alverno College, Milwaukee (solo)
1978
Paintings, Art Gallery, New Art Center, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (solo)
1978
State University of New York, Plattsburg, NY (solo)
1978
Paintings, Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS (solo)
1977
Washington County Museum, Hagerstown, MD (solo)
1977
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
1977
University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, WI (solo)
1977
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA (solo)
1977
Queens College Library, Queens, NY (solo)
1977
New Deal for Art: The Government Art Projects of the 1930s with Examples from New York City and State Oswego, Tyler Art Gallery, New York (catalogue)
1977
New York WPA Artists Then and Now , Parsons School of Design Exhibition Center, New York
1976
American Family Portraits: 1730-1976, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
1976
Portraits U.S.A. 1776-1976, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
1976
Paintings by Three American Realists: Alice Neel, Sylvia Sleigh, May Stevens Syracuse, Everson Museum of Art, New York (catalogue)
1976
Dorothy Gillespie, Alice Neel, Charlotte Robinson, Sylvia Sleigh: Recent Paintings and Works on Paper, Fendrick Gallery, Washington D.C.
1976
Women Artists: 1550-1950 , Los Angeles County Museum of Art , Los Angeles
1976
Choate School, Wallingford, CT (solo)
1976
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
1975
Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Portland, OR (solo)
1975
The Woman and Her Work, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens (solo)
1975
Smith College, Northampton, MA (solo)
1975
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY (solo)
1975
American Can Collective, San Francisco (solo)
1975
University Center Gallery, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA (solo)
1974
Alice Neel (Retrospective), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (solo)
1974
Old Mill Gallery, Tinton Falls (solo)
1974
Summit Art Center, Summit (solo)
1974
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
1973
Langman Gallery, Jenkintown, PA (solo)
1972
Bowling Green University, Bowling Green (solo)
1972
Bloomsburg State College, Bloomsburg (solo)
1971
Moore College of Art, Philadelphia (solo)
1970
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
1969
Nightingale Galleries, Toronto (solo)
1968
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
1967
Maxwell Gallery, San Francisco (solo)
1966
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
1965
Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH (solo)
1965
Fordham University, Bronx, NY (solo)
1963
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
1962
Reed College, Portland (solo)
1960
Old Mill Gallery, Tinton Falls (solo)
1954
ACA Gallery, New York (solo)
1951
New Playwrights Theater, New York (solo)
1950
ACA Gallery, New York (solo)
1944
Pinacotheca Gallery, New York (solo)
1944
Pinacotheca Gallery, New York (solo)
1938
Contemporary Arts Gallery, New York (solo)
1926
Havana, Cuba (solo)

Literature

2007
Alice Neel: The Cycle of Life, London: Victoria Miro Gallery
2004
Jeremy Lewison, ‘Alice Neel: A Chronicle of Her Times’ in Alice Neel A Chronicle of New York 1950-1976, London: Victoria Miro Gallery
2002
Carr, Carolyn, Alice Neel: Women. Mirror of Identity, New York, Rizzoli Temkin, Ann, ed. Alice Neel. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art
1998
Allara, Pamela. Pictures of People: Alice Neel's American Portrait Gallery. Hanover: University Press of New England
1996
Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. London: Thames and Hudson
1991
Belcher, Gerald and Margaret. Collecting Souls, Gathering Dust: The Struggles of Two American Artists. New York: Paragon House
1985
Castle, Ted, interview with Alice Neel. Alice Neel Paintings since 1970 Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1983
Hills, Patricia. Alice Neel. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
1983
Sutherland Harris, Ann, text of lecture by Alice Neel, Alice Neel: Painting 1933 – 1982. Los Angeles: Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University
1979
Munro, Eleanor. Originals: American Women Artists. New York: Simon & Schuster
For full biographical and bibliographic details see Temkin, Ann, ed. Alice Neel. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000.