Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spotlight: Alice Neel

Hello and Happy Tuesday! It is intermittently sunny and quite chilly here in Baltimore, and I am enjoying the energy that I get from this sort of weather.  For today's Spotlight, I thought I'd go with the painter Alice Neel.  Alice Neel's paintings are super-fun.  Born in 1900 near Philadelphia, she doesn't fit in any one painting category and her style is all her own.  According to her website, she "Was one of the great American painters of the twentieth century" and was also "A pioneer among women artists."  I would agree with both statements.  Neel primarily painted figures, but she also painted landscapes and still life.

How to describe her style?  I am struggling to put it into words.  Her paintings are loose, direct, full of expression and emotion.  They are not particular about traditional elements like proportion, or likeness; yet they are still proportionate and almost certainly look very much like the people they portray.  Neel was never shy about outlines or color application- notice the darker line surrounding most shapes that acts like a pencil drawing, or the way you can obviously tell where one color ends and one begins and how that color was applied.  These things are what make her paintings so great, though- they are straightforward and honest, colorful and fun, full of emotion and integrity.  I love that it seems like she didn't really care what other people thought, or about how you're "supposed" to paint, and instead just painted what she saw how she like to paint it.  I also enjoy how she used the white of the canvas, always letting a little bit show through, giving her paintings a slightly unfinished feel that further emphasized the loose, direct quality of them.  Easily one of my all-time favorites!  To learn more about Alice Neel, visit aliceneel.com.

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