GAVIN SPANIERMAN, ltd.
Please join us at the USArtists
October 1-3, 2010 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia
Located in the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building, 128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia
Show Hours: Friday & Saturday 11-8, Sunday 11-5
A special preview gala will be held Thursday, September 30th.
For tickets and more information please go to http://www.usartists.org/
Alice Neel was born in Merion, Pennsylvania on January 28th, 1900. From 1921 to 1925 she studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and Design, later named the Moore College of Art. Neel moved from Colwyn, Pennsylvania in 1927 to New York City. She initially settled in Greenwich Village before moving to Spanish Harlem, where a majority of her subjects were found. She worked for the WPA Federal Art Project from 1933 to 1943 where her interest in radical politics and culture derived from working alongside fellow artists in New York City.
Alice Neel was one of the foremost portrait painters of the 20th century. Her realistic approach to her sitters coupled with themes of the harsh urban society set her apart from the prevailing style of Abstract Expressionism.
A proponent of communism, her subjects were often related to the party's beliefs. Her letters were published in Mainstream, the Party's cultural magazine and she was involved in programs funded by the communist party. Her association with these groups gave her works a context, setting a majority of her works in Spanish Harlem echoed the parties emphasis on the working class. She painted the working people in her neighborhood, emphasizing their strife and daily life. These radical politics were combined in her portraits and figures which imbued them with a harsh and relentless vivacity.
The 1930s proved to be a tumultuous time for Neel; it was a period of franticly paced creativity in which she painted hundreds of works, coupled with hospitalization for an attempted suicide, due to a strained relationship with her first husband Carlos Enriquez. This led her to create paintings and exhibit with groups that further embraced her radical communist ideology. In 1938, she exhibited with The New York Group at the A.C.A Gallery. The group sought to, "reflect the deepest feelings of the people: their poverty, their surroundings, their desire for peace, their fight for life." Included in the group were Jules Halfant, Jacob Kainen, Herb Kruckman, Louis Nisonoff, Herman Rose, Max Schnitzler, and Joseph Vogel. Exhibiting alongside male artists who shared the same leftist ideology as Neel gave her a small advancement in the world of art.
It was not until the 1970s and 1980s when Neel's life attained a new balance that the anger found in earlier paintings subsided. Works during this period developed a simple serenity embodied in the portraits of those who she was closest. During this time, her paintings gave a glimpse into her world as she chose not to focus on famous people but paint friends and family.
In 1974 the Whitney Museum of American Art held a major retrospective of her portraits and in 1976 she was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. President Jimmy Carter awarded her with a National Women's Caucus for Award in 1979. Today Neel is represented in over thirty museums including: Art Institute of Chicago; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; National Portrait Gallery, DC; Smithsonian American Art Museum.
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