Alice Neel: Uptown




Curated by the celebrated US critic and author Hilton Als, Alice Neel, Uptown focuses on paintings made by the artist during the five decades in which she lived and worked in upper Manhattan, first in Spanish (East) Harlem, where she moved in 1938, and, later, the Upper West Side, where she lived from 1962 until her death in 1984. An accompanying catalogue, jointly published by David Zwirner Books and Victoria Miro, will include essays by Hilton Als on individual portraits and their sitters, in addition to new scholarship by Jeremy Lewison.
Intimate, casual, direct and personal, Alice Neel’s portraits exist as an unparalleled chronicle of New York personalities – both famous and unknown. A woman with a strong social conscience and equally strong left-wing beliefs, Neel moved from the relative comfort of Greenwich Village to Spanish Harlem in 1938 in pursuit of “the truth”. There she painted friends, neighbours, casual acquaintances and people she encountered on the street among the immigrant community, and just as often cultural figures connected to Harlem or to the civil rights movement. Neel’s later portraits, made after moving to the Upper West Side, reflect a changing milieu, yet remain engaged more or less explicitly with political and social issues, and the particularities of living and working under, as Neel put it, “the pressure of city life”.

Highlighting both the innate diversity of Neel’s approach to portraiture and the extraordinary diversity of twentieth century New York City, in this exhibition Hilton Als brings together a selection of Neel’s portraits of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and other people of colour. As Als writes, “what fascinated her was the breadth of humanity that she encountered”.

The selected portraits include cultural and political figures admired by Neel, among them playwright, actor, and author Alice Childress, and sociologist Horace R. Cayton, Jr., whose 1945 Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City is among the key academic studies of the African American urban experience in the early twentieth century.

Duration 18 May 2017 - 29 July 2017
Times Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm
Cost Free
Venue Victoria Miro (Wharf Road)
Address 16 Wharf Road, London, N1 7RW
Contact / info@victoria-miro.com / www.victoria-miro.com

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