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 onerous.’ Of the self-portrait the artist mentioned, ‘ All my life I needed to do a nude self-portrait however I put it off till now – when folks would accuse me of madness quite than vainness.’
Along with her figurative portraits of fellow New Yorkers, typically 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 paintings ‘ simply instructed it prefer it was’. How sensible that she persevered along with her self-portrait for half a decade to indicate the world what an ageing physique seems to be like.
Describing herself as a collector of souls, the late feminist artist captured garments very well, too. The Alice Neel: Sizzling Off The Griddle exhibition is on till Sunday 23 Might, 2023. And when you’re within the space, the Whitechapel Gallery’s Motion, Gesture, Paint is effectively price a glance. This can be a international tackle girls summary expressionist painters from the twentieth century; together with a number of 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.