On the age of 80 in 1980, Alice Neel painted her first self-portrait. In response to the blurb on the new Barbican exhibition, the portray (above) took her 5 years to finish – and her cheeks are flushed as a result of ‘ it was so damned exhausting.’ Of the self-portrait the artist stated, ‘ All my life I wished to do a nude self-portrait however I put it off till now – when folks would accuse me of madness somewhat than self-importance.’
Along with her figurative portraits of fellow New Yorkers, usually these marginalised by society, from her Black and Puerto Rican neighbours in Harlem to civil rights activists, poets, artists and queer performers; Neel (1900-1984) captured the zeitgeist. She famously persuaded Andy Warhol to take a seat semi-naked in a surgical truss after he’d been shot by Valerie Solanas. Her distinctive art work ‘ simply informed it prefer it was’. How sensible that she persevered together with her self-portrait for half a decade to point out the world what an ageing physique appears to be like like.
Describing herself as a collector of souls, the late feminist artist captured garments very well, too. The Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle exhibition is on till Sunday 23 Might, 2023. And whilst you’re within the space, the Whitechapel Gallery’s Action, Gesture, Paint is effectively value a glance. It is a international tackle girls summary expressionist painters from the twentieth century; together with numerous names I used to be unfamiliar with however all as equally gifted as their much-lauded male contemporaries.
There’s a evaluate of each exhibitions by Laura Cummings within the Observer HERE.
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