Alice Neel on portray her first nude self-portrait at 80 — That’s Not My Age


On the age of 80 in 1980, Alice Neel painted her first self-portrait. In response to the blurb on the new Barbican exhibition, the portray (above) took her 5 years to finish – and her cheeks are flushed as a result of ‘ it was so damned laborious.’ Of the self-portrait the artist mentioned, ‘ All my life I needed to do a nude self-portrait however I put it off till now – when individuals would accuse me of madness relatively than self-importance.’

Together with her figurative portraits of fellow New Yorkers, usually these marginalised by society, from her Black and Puerto Rican neighbours in Harlem to civil rights activists, poets, artists and queer performers; Neel (1900-1984) captured the zeitgeist. Her distinctive art work ‘ simply advised it prefer it was’. How sensible that she persevered with the self-portrait for half a decade to point out the world what an ageing physique appears to be like like.

Describing herself as a collector of souls, the late feminist artist captured garments rather well, too. The Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle exhibition is on till Sunday 23 Might, 2023. And whilst you’re within the space, the Whitechapel Gallery’s Action, Gesture, Paint is nicely value a glance. This can be a international tackle ladies summary expressionist painters from the twentieth century; together with plenty of names I used to be unfamiliar with however all as equally gifted as their much-lauded male contemporaries.


There’s a evaluation of each exhibitions by Laura Cummings within the Observer HERE. Extra on how we really feel about our ageing our bodies HERE.