“People Come First”

Can’t wait to see the Alice Neel exhibit this Sunday at The De Young.

Going to be interesting to see up close, to know how much suffering and infusion of NYC energy went into her work. It’s ironic that the exhibit is called “people come first” when you learn of her tragic history.

Carlos Enriquez, 1926

Carlos and Alice got themselves expelled from Art Camp in the summer of 1924.

Alice’s friend, Rhoda Myers, 1930. This painting is Alice bearing nude the female form without it being decorative or sexy. The shielding of the body with all sorts of obstacles on the edges of the image tell us what it must have been like to maneuver a female body in the simmering NYC streets and beyond in the 1930’s. A time when women were shamed for their gender and sexuality, for wanting more in life than to just reproduce, were being abused daily by men in every possible way.
The vibrant, quality and care Alice put into all three of her portraits of Fanya Foss really speak to the way Fanya must have made her feel, working in Fanya’s Greenwich Village bookstore in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Fanya went on to write screenplays of an amusing selection of Hollywood films.
Investigation of Poverty, 1933
Joe Gould, homeless Harvard graduate and Greenwich Village barfly, 1933
Rare landscape painted at the cottage in NJ that her rich lover helped her buy. You can tell that Alice feels out of place when she isn’t in the city.
Kenneth Fearing, 1935. He wanted her to remove the skeleton from this painting but she refused.

Robert Henri was one of Alice’s early teachers. Even though he was a painter, he has quite beautiful piano players’ hands.

Author: Subterraneans

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