Alice Neel Self Portrait 1984
Alice Neel Self Portrait 1984

We are so lucky Peter Schjeldahl is still writing art criticism for The New Yorker. He enriches our lives with each column. I keep thinking eachwill be his last.

And how can it be that Roberta Smith, one of the sole art critic champions of Philip Guston’s late sixties work (at the time), can still be at the top of her game, writing for the New York Times. Alice Neel has been one of my favorite painters since I first laid eyes on her work. Neel is the subject of a retrospective and Ms. Smith knocks it out of the park with her review of the show.

“It is said that the future is female, and one can only hope. But it is important to remember that the past, through continuous excavation, is becoming more female all the time. The latest evidence is the gloriously relentless retrospective of Alice Neel (1900-1984), the radical realist painter of all things human.”

We saw a Alice Neel show in Chelsea at Zwirner in 2012 and a few paintings at the Met Breuer in 2016. And twenty years ago, at the last Neel retrospective at the Whitney, we ran into Chuck Close where he and the guy pushing his wheelchair were hogging our view of a Neel painting. I was getting upset at how long they were taking and then backed off when I realized it was Close.

The Eastman has a Maplethorpe portrait of Alice which they’ve pulled out a few times over the years. That is about as close as we can get to her in this town.

Listen to “Alice” by Margaret Explosion

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