By Pamela Allara
During this shiny chronicle of the lifestyles and paintings of the prolific painter and bohemian eccentric Alice Neel, whose occupation spanned the many years from the Twenties to the Seventies, Pamela Allara highlights pics that represent a digital gallery of yankee cultural historical past. whereas a few of Neel’s photos graced the covers of courses like Ms. and Time, such a lot of her matters have been unknowns—the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the oppressed. Neel, stimulated through left-wing politics and modernism, did greater than infuse portraiture with a brand new power and relevance. by way of recording the visages of her sitters, she rescued them for historical past and rendered them witnesses to their time.
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Additional info for Pictures of People: Alice Neel's American Portrait Gallery
Alice Neel, Sam Putnam 78 Fig. 40. , Sam Putnam, c. 1933 78 Fig. 41. Alice Neel, Max White 79 Fig. 42. Alice Neel, Joe Gould 80 Fig. 43. Alice Neel, Joe Gould 81 Fig. 44. Alice Neel, Kenneth Fearing 84 Fig. 45. Alice Neel, Pat Whalen 84 Fig. 46. Nahum Tschacbasov, Deportation 87 Fig. 47. Alice Neel, Childbirth or, Maternity 92 Fig. 48. "Canvases ... Are Sold for Junk" 93 Fig. 49. Alice Neel, A Quiet Summer's Day 98 Fig. 50. Alice Neel, A Bird in Her Hair 98 Fig. 51. Alice Neel, Judge Medina 100 Fig.
The hand of the artist seems a bit heavy to me. The bulk of the book, "Alice By Alice" ... is the artist's oral history of herself, and Hills is present only as the author of an eight-page, unillustrated Afterword. This disparity would matter less if a solid core of critical discussion on Neel had already existed, or if her monologue were more interesting. Anyone who has heard the artist's garrulous lectures will recognize many of the anecdotes printed here ... [T]he artist should have realized that if she is to move off the lecture circuit and enter art history, the cooperation of people like Hills should not be abused.
There was no culture there. I hated that little town. I just despised it. And in the summer I used to sit on the porch and try to keep my blood from circulating. That's why my own kids had a much better life than I had. Because boredom was what killed me. Thus opens "Alice by Alice," Alice Neel's autobiography, published the year before she died. 1 Neel was a painter: her strong visual sense pervades her speech. In her old age, the images from her childhood, indelibly painted in her mind, carried with them all of the emotional weight of their initial impression.