Alice Neel – art books to check out!

Alice Neel is an American painter who produced works in the mid-part of the twentieth century.   A feminist before her time, Neel’s lifestyle, and even her art, was sometimes considered controversial.  She is now thought of as one of the best American artists of last century, even though her work is not as well known as contemporaries Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko.   Her style is figurative, linear and emotional and I think it’s similar to Elizabeth Peyton or John Curran.  The library has two new books about her that are worth checking out if you enjoy modern, American art and discovering new artists.

Syndetics book coverAlice Neel : painted truths / Jeremy Lewison … [et al.].
This book was published to coincide with an international exhibition of Alice Neel’s work held last year.  It’s a comprehensive collection of her art, spanning seven decades, with wonderful colour plates of both her paintings and drawings.   The essays examine her stylistic development and complex pyschological themes.

Syndetics book coverAlice Neel : the art of not sitting pretty / Phoebe Hoban.
Well known writer Phoebe Hoban covers Neel’s personal life and artistic career in this biography.  Neel had a tough life – living in 1920s Cuba, struggling with the death of her child, suffering a nervous breakdown – but continued to create contemporary works of art amidst all the drama.  Her paintings were highly personal and she often used her experiences as subjects, or subtexts, for her paintings.  The book places Neel in the social context of her time and considers her place as an artist who worked outside the accepted New York art world and as an important figure in the feminist art movement.  It is an interesting read about a talented artist with a tumultuous life and career.