It's the last week of Alice. :( Here's my notes for the week:
When asked what it was that appealed to her about pregnant women Alice Neel said,
In 1975, Alice was a panelist at the Brooklyn Museum for Curators, Critics and the Economics of the Woman Artist and Women Artists, Seventy Plus. In the photo below left, pictured left to right, top row: Lilly Brody, Susan Martin, Isabel Bishop, Alice Neel, Lil Picard, Judith Von Baron, Lois Mailou Jones, Janet Schneider, Sari Dienes. Bottom row: Patricia Mainardi, June Blum.
In 1979 Alice recieved a National Women's Caucus for Art award for outstanding achievment in art. The photo above top right is Alice Neel, Selma Burke and Isabel Bishop with President Jimmy Carter. And the photo above bottom right is Alice and Louise Nevelson at the same event. Georgia O'Keeffe was also honored but maybe did not attend as I can't find her in any of the photos?
In 1980, Alice's self portrait was exhibited for the first time. Also in 1980 Alice began having incidents where she lost consciousness. It was discovered that she had sick sinus syndrome leading to episodes of bradycardia. She had a pacemaker inserted to regulate her heart rate.
I had this idea to look more closely at the silhouette of the figures in her paintings which then led me to layering the silhouette over the painting. Her figures are so powerful that the surroundings sort of disappear and so I find it pretty interesting to look at her paintings this way with the emphasis on the room.
This week I learned that Alice Neel's granddaughter Elizabeth Neel is also a painter!!
Then to finish up I put together my favorites. I finally narrowed it down to these nine:
It's such a great exercise to narrow it down and then think about exactly what I'm drawn to about Alice. For the most part I love her later work because the colors are richer and brighter. I love the loose, expressive line, I'm drawn to the eyes and the hands, I love the unfinishedness, and I love that everyone is painted in the same way--rich or poor, the most famous artists to the breastfeeding housekeeper.
And then I took some of those silhouettes I made and some Alice Neel backgrounds and layered them all together. I really like how this one turned out and I'm thinking about using it as the start to a large painting.
This photo of Alice by Robert Mapplethorpe was taken in New York just a week or so before her death. He photographed her with "eyes shut and mouth open, a study in old age and the ephemeral and transient nature of human life, an apparently prescient reminder of her imminent death. The lighting draws attention to the nuances of Neel’s freckled skin and halo of white hair. Her open mouth – the only really dark area of her face – has been viewed both as an indication of resistance to impending death and as an evocation of a final breath."
Alice died from cancer on October 13, 1984.