Since June 2016 a major retrospective dedicated to this artist has been touring Europe. In 2017 Alice Neel: Painter of Modern Life makes a lengthy stop at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles. Bringing together more than seventy paintings from numerous institutions and private collections, this landmark exhibition allows us to grasp the scope of Neel’s œuvre. As an artist who devoted herself to portraiture, Neel went against the dominant ideology in post-war New York, where abstraction was the ensign of contemporary art.
Alice Neel admired 19th-century European painters such as Van Gogh and Cézanne, who – like her – favored spontaneity and the expression of the artist’s state of mind. Her canvases exude great intimacy and take a particular look at daily reality. Her portraits of young people from the disadvantaged social classes are hallmarked by a somber palette. At the end of a career spanning sixty years, the artist bequeaths us a significant and fundamentally human panorama of colorful characters through the century. Neel never ceased to portray, with authenticity, matters at the heart of her epoch, including the socio-cultural struggles experienced by women. As she observed: “There is a new freedom for women to be themselves, to find out what they really are.”
curator: Jeremy Lewison
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles
35ter Rue du Docteur-Fanton
13200 Arles | France