my Alice Neel

I could have been a good psychiatrist. But is more fun to be an artist. (by Alice Neel)

I had the pleasure to discover Alice as an artist bumping in her exhibition in London in 2009, at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Overwhelming to stand in front of those portraits. Most of all, they were real. No mystification of truth through “art”. It has been like watching through the eyes of a child: same curiosity, same innocence, same insolence.

She simply striked my soul.

alice steel oil on canvas

I have also been watching the documentary the 2 sons directed on the life of their mother, as part of the exhibition, in a small room arranged as a cinema inside the gallery. So touching to see that before being recognized as a mother, she was first recognized as an artist by her own sons. How painful for both of them: mother & children.

She lived as an artist, as she felt she authentically was, she lost reputation, she lost money and possessions, she lost men, she lost her daughter twice (first she was taken away in Cuba by her father, then she took her own life away), she lost – to a certain extent – the love of her sons. Still,  she was standing there all the time: by her side. Right or wrong. Good or bad. And she became Alice Steel.

Mind you, that was a joyful pain. Just take a look at her work to touch how this could feel.

Now on iTunes: Documentary on the life and work of Alice Neel (1900-1984), American portrait painter.

Phoebe Hoban - Alice Neel. The art of not sitting pretty

Phoebe Hoban – Alice Neel. The art of not sitting pretty

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