Tuesday, July 29, 2008


No, this is not an image by Alice Neel. The website dedicated to her work was extremely specific about not publishing any of her images without written permission. I didn't want to risk it.

One of my favorite images by Alice is her nude self portrait at 80 years old. It is perhaps her most famous painting. This woman was independent, outspoken, driven, unorthodox in almost every way and a most interesting personality, not to mention a fantastic artist. She was born in 1900 and died in 1984. I am reading a book about her by Patricia Hills which was compiled from interviews by the author with Alice. The two things we have in common is she loved to paint interesting people and Alice didn't gain recognition until her 60's. (It's never too late!) Other than that, not so much. Her recognition was much more significant but until that time she was working pretty much in obscurity.

There is lots of information on her on the internet. Her grandson has made a documentary of her life which is just now being slowly shown around the country in a few places. Her life was hard and it was difficult for her children, as well. Here is a quote from the film:
“If somebody would say, was it worth it?” he concluded, “I would say, sure. Unless we write or we paint or we take photographs, who the hell’s going to know how we existed, except our family?”
Hartley Neel, Alice Neel's son.

It is interesting to contemplate that, as artists, we are creating our own legacy which will live on.

Alice is well represented in major museums around the country now and everyone should know of her existence.

Speaking of museums, the above image is one I did in colored pencil of an incredible marble statue in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. The headress was a separate piece of marble that fit like a glove on the head. We marveled at the ability to fit so perfectly two pieces of marble seamlessly together.


RHCarpenter said...

Gorgeous work, Myrna. I learned of Alice Neel through WetCanvas and like her style! So there is hope for me, a young pup still at 51?? Hee hee

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Myrna. I like the idea of a legacy, of course our children tend not to appreciate all that is precious to us. Now my knickers are in a twist because I also give a lot of weight to a statement by a noted author, whose name escapes me, that at some point we have to get past the need to record and interpret everything and just experience it.

David Lobenberg said...

I love Alice's work! Through your work, I can see why you do too.

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