One of the artists in my Sketchbook Project “Art I Like” is Alice Neel. Most of the works I chose to represent through lines and grids were either landscape or abstract, but Neel was primarily a portraitist, so I used a painting of her son Richard. Amazingly, the boy emerges from the abstraction.
No one who draws or paints people can escape the influence of Alice Neel. She persevered with her subject matter when representative art was considered “over” in the mid 20th century, only to find the world catching up with her again in the 1960’s. Above is a painting Nina did of me in the 1970’s next of one of Neel’s portraits of her granddaughter done at about the same time. They were definitely on the same wavelength.
I did this watercolor last month, and in looking through a book of Alice Neel paintings, came across one that also feels like it came from the same source, although it was painted in 1959.
Neel painted her children and grandchildren with their pets, just as I painted Nina with her cat Ace.
And Nina’s “Woman in a Hat”, done recently, echoes eerily Neel’s “Young Woman” painted in 1946.
Alice Neel painted hundreds of portraits, from the people living on her street, to her family and friends, to the rich, famous, and well-connected. We all who also try to portray the humans around us are indebted to her wide-ranging and penetrating vision.