Alice Neel

  • Born 1900 in Merion Square, PA, USA
  • Died 1984 in New York, NY, USA

Alice Neel is best known for her straightforward, often confrontational, portraits. After working as a secretary (1918–1921) while attending evening classes at the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia, she enrolled at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design). She and her husband, Cuban artist Carlos Enríquez (1900–1957), traveled to Cuba in 1926 but moved to New York City the following year. When she moved to Spanish Harlem in 1938, she began to paint incisive portraits of family and friends, her Puerto Rican neighbors, and people she met on the street. She continued working in a figurative style, ignoring the rising abstract movement of the postwar era. With her move to the Upper West Side in the 1960s, she made her way back into the current artistic circles and portrayed important artists, curators, and gallery owners, such as the poet and writer Frank O'Hara (1926–1966), Pop artist Andy Warhol (1928–1997), and land artist Robert Smithson (1938–1973). In 1974 she was honored with a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Artworks by Alice Neel in the exhibition