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september 22, 2022 - Victoria Miro Gallery

Opening this autumn at Victoria Miro and around the world

Victoria Miro is delighted to present Alice Neel: There’s Still Another I See, an exhibition that focuses for the first time on pairings of Neel’s paintings of the same sitter.

 

‘When he came in the door the fourth time he looked different… And do you know, there’s still another I see. I could paint him again.’ – Alice Neel*

 

Among the foremost painters of the twentieth century, Alice Neel’s reputation has only ascended further during recent years, with landmark exhibitions such as the acclaimed 2021–2022 touring survey Alice Neel: People Come First, organised by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Throughout her life, Neel (1900–1984) developed a unique talent for identifying particular gestures and mannerisms that reveal the singular identities of her sitters. Yet, she was also acutely aware of changes within an individual in spirit and in flesh, and how these changes might reveal themselves over minutes, days or decades. The above quote, in which Neel describes her experience of painting the poet Frank O’Hara, gives a sense of what compelled her to look at and paint #people more than once, and by extension to know as much as possible about the #people and the world around her.  

This exhibition, the first of its kind, focuses on pairings of paintings by Neel of the same sitter, sometimes completed only a year or two apart, sometimes decades apart. With works ranging in date from the 1930s to the 1980s, it charts physical transformations over time, changes of mood, temperature or temperament – in sitter and artist – along with developments in Neel’s art, which grew ever more penetrating and succinct.

The domestic habitat of her family provides a focus. Neel completed just four paintings of her mother, Alice Concross Hartley Neel (1868–1954), two of which will be on view: My Mother, 1930; and My Mother, 1952. Painted 22 years apart, they reveal a strong empathy for the changes in body and mind that accompany old age. Yet, just as striking is an unusual dynamic – that of the artist looking and, just as powerfully, being looked at by her subject. Neel said that it was through the expression of her mother’s face that she judged her own actions; as she explained to art critic Judith Higgins ‘My psychiatrist told me I got interested in painting portraits because I liked to watch my mother’s face… It had dominion over me. Since she was so unpredictable, he thought I watched her face to see whether she approved of things or not.’ 

Further information in the press release to download

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