My introduction to the painter Alice Neel was a display screen print that held on the lounge wall of my grandparents’ residence in Woodstock, N.Y. — a provocative portrait of Neel’s pouting granddaughter lounging on a striped chair. That portrait then moved inside my household, to Minneapolis, San Francisco and, lastly, to my residence on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — down the road from the place Neel painted and lived — the place it now hangs on my wall.
I found final weekend, once I noticed Neel’s gorgeous retrospective on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that the identical striped chair has appeared in a lot of her work. The many portraits within the exhibition, “Alice Neel: People Come First,” have been of Neel’s associates and lovers, or of well-known artists, activists, critics, students — together with many radicals my grandmother admired, amongst them Mike Gold, an creator and activist, and Linda Nochlin, a celebrated feminist artwork historian.
I turned inquisitive about Neel’s topics and discovered about their lives from their obituaries in The New York Times. Below is a sampling.
Jackie Curtis, Performer Who Worked With Warhol
Jackie Curtis was a playwright, director and performer who acted in Andy Warhol movies like “Bad” (1977), a comedy a few hairdresser who runs an electrolysis parlor in her residence, and the 1971 satire “Women in Revolt.” He additionally wrote screenplays for Warhol, together with “Flesh” (1968), a few hustler engaged on the streets of New York City.
He started to write down performs within the late Nineteen Sixties, and infrequently took the lead feminine position in them.
Andy Warhol, Pop Artist and Cultural Icon
Andy Warhol’s work and prints of presidents, film stars and soup cans made him one of the well-known artists on the planet.
Neel’s portrait of him, “nude from the waist up, revealing his scars and the surgical corset he wore after he was shot by Valerie Solanas,” as Phoebe Hoban wrote within the introduction to “Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty” (2010), demonstrates the collaborative change Neel had along with her topics.
James Farmer was a principal founding father of the Congress of Racial Equality and the final survivor of the “Big Four” who formed the civil rights wrestle within the United States within the mid-Nineteen Fifties and ’60s.
His predominant colleagues within the civil rights motion have been the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Whitney Young of the National Urban League and Roy Wilkins of the N.A.A.C.P.
Linda Nochlin, Feminist Art Historian
Linda Nochlin was a celebrated artwork historian whose feminist strategy completely altered her discipline.
She earned a spot of honor in each art-historical and art-world circles in January 1971 with the groundbreaking essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”
Her reply examined assumptions behind the query, enumerated the centuries of institutional and social conventions that had militated towards ladies’s succeeding within the arts, and discredited what she known as the parable of innate genius.
Henry Geldzahler, Critic, Public Official
and Contemporary Art’s Champion
Henry Geldzahler was a curator, critic and public official whose enthusiastic advocacy of up to date artwork made his title synonymous with the artwork scene in New York for 3 a long time.
He started his profession as a curator of American artwork on the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the age of 33 he put collectively the museum’s sweeping centennial exhibition, “New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970,” a extremely private choice of 408 works by 43 artists that thrust the staid Met into the swirling currents of contemporary artwork and led one journalist to name him “the most powerful and controversial art curator alive.” He excluded Alice Neel from the exhibition.
David Bourdon, Art Critic With Expertise
in Modern Genres
David Bourdon was a critic who was carefully concerned within the modern Manhattan artwork world of the early Nineteen Sixties and was one of many early writers on the Minimalist motion.
Among his books have been research of the artists Christo (1972), Alexander Calder (1980) and Andy Warhol (1989). His e book on Warhol was an in depth insider’s account of the artist’s profession wherein he reported having assisted Warhol in producing a collection of his 1963 Elvis Presley silk-screen work. A pal of the artists Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer, he additionally wrote concerning the Earth Art motion within the late Nineteen Sixties and ’70s. He was a previous president of the United States part of the International Association of Art Critics and an arts editor at Vogue from 1983 to 1986.
Geoffrey Hendricks, Fluxus Artist
Geoffrey Hendricks and Bici Forbes had been married for years and had two kids after they confronted as much as a conundrum.
“By the time of our 10th wedding anniversary,” Mr. Hendricks recalled years later, “which is June 24, 1971, it was like: ‘Well, what should we do? Because we’re both gay.’”
Hendricks was an artist who was a part of the boundary-stretching Fluxus motion, so it was completely in character when he and his spouse, the artist generally known as Nye Ffarrabas, determined to show their disunion into efficiency artwork. On their tenth anniversary, they staged what has grow to be generally known as the Flux Divorce of their Manhattan residence.
Alice Childress, Novelist Who Drew Themes
From Black Life
Alice Childress was an actress and a author of performs and novels, together with “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich.”
In a evaluate of “Hero” in The New York Times in 1973, the playwright Ed Bullins wrote: “There are too few books that convince us that reading is one of the supreme gifts of being human. Alice Childress, in her short, brilliant study of a 13-year-old Black heroin user, achieves this feat in a masterly way.”
Michael Gold, Author and Activist
Michael Gold, Neel’s pal, lover and mentor, was the creator of the novel “Jews Without Money” and different works of social protest. He was a columnist for the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker and a founding editor of New Masses, a replica of which is seen on the underside left of Neel’s portrait. The title of Neel’s retrospective on the Met comes from a 1950 article about her that Gold wrote for The Daily Worker.
“But for me, people come first,” he quoted Neel as saying. “I think I have tried to assert the dignity and eternal importance of the human being in my portraits.”
Cindy Nemser, Advocate for Women Artists
Cindy Nemser was an artwork critic and historian who, half a century in the past, started calling out sexism within the artwork world, decrying the best way ladies artists have been handled and the way their work was evaluated.
Nemser was already writing for arts publications in 1969 when somebody invited her to an early assembly of Women Artists in Revolution, a New York coalition that pushed again towards the marginalization of ladies within the artwork world. At the time few ladies had gallery illustration or have been being proven in main museums.
Benny Andrews, Painter of Life within the South
Benny Andrews was a figural expressionistic painter and instructor whose work drew on his African-American roots in Georgia.
He was a vivid storyteller who used recollections of his childhood within the segregated South to create narrative-based works that addressed human struggling and injustice. Over his lifetime, his social considerations ranged from the civil rights wrestle and the antiwar motion to the Holocaust, poverty and the compelled relocation of American Indians.
Erica Ackerberg is a photograph editor on the Obituaries and Books desks at The New York Times.