Feminist Artists: Alice Neel

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Artist Alice Neel
Neel | Portrait of Larry | Ackerman's Fine Art

Portrait of Larry

Alice Neel’s (1900-1984) artwork was always created with intentionality, her paintings reflective of her activism in women’s rights and public works. A forerunning female artist, Alice Neel trained at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, and was interested in dissecting the social scene of the people around her.  “Whether I’m painting or not,” she said, “I have this overweening interest in humanity. Even if I’m not working, I’m still analyzing people” (Source).

New York was her artistic core: she spent a large part of her career in the city, creating portraits of other social activists and painting urban scenes for the Works Progress Administration while living in Greenwich Village. Later, she moved to Spanish Harlem, producing portraits of the large Puerto Rican community there as well as the mundane: people she encountered on the streets, acquaintances, neighbors, and the like. During this time, she isolated herself from the larger art world, where she had found pretension and a sense of exclusivity that she wanted to leave.

As a progressive thinker throughout her life, Alice Neel spent the 1960s painting politically involved individuals, like African American activists and feminist thinkers who were a part of the women’s movement. Though she made an effort during her early career to distance herself from the art culture as a whole, she ultimately reintegrated with it: many of the pieces during the latter part of her career paid tribute to some of the leading artists and art supporters of the time, like Frank O’Hara and Andy Warhol. In this way, she created meta-art, using the medium to document and reflect upon art itself as a form of expression.


Ackerman’s Fine Art is actively purchasing works by Alice Neel.  Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.

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