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Alice Neel: Uptown


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About the Author

Hilton Als is an American writer based in New York. He became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 1994 and a theater critic in 2002. His first book, The Women, a meditation on gender, race, and personal identity, was published in 1996. His most recent book, White Girls, discusses various narratives around race and gender and was nominated for a 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. In 2017, Als was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Als is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University's School of the Arts and has taught at Yale University and Smith College, among other universities. Alice Neel was born in 1900 in Merion Square, Pennsylvania, and died in 1984 in New York. With a practice spanning the 1920s to the 1980s, Neel is widely regarded as one of the foremost American figurative painters of the twentieth century. Based in New York, Neel chose her subjects from her family, friends, and a broad variety of locals, and her eccentric selection was thus a portrayal of, and dialogue with, the city in which she lived. Although she showed sporadically early in her career, from the 1960s onwards her work was exhibited widely in the United States. In 1974, she had her first retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Jeremy Lewison is a British independent curator, writer, and lecturer. Since 2003, he has acted as the advisor to The Estate of Alice Neel. He began his career in the art world in 1977 as curator of Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge. In 1983, he joined Tate Gallery, London, where he became director of collections in 1998, and was responsible for publications and exhibitions on the works of Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, Barnett Newman, and Jackson Pollock.


"Alice Neel's incisive, personal portraits fill the pages of Uptown, by The New Yorker's Hilton Als."--Staff "New York Magazine"
"It's a fully human depiction, and it doesn't use the black or brown body to advance what Als calls an 'ideological cause.' Benjamin as rendered by Neel is simply a black child, being. How powerful is that? Like Als on the page today, Neel's paintings then captured all that she loved about the city, which is to say she imaged figures she knew had to be seen to be remembered."--Antwaun Sargent "Interview"
"In lieu of a single essay, Als intervenes between the paintings with ruminations on individual images. He fixates on the young man in Call Me Joe, 1955...He lingers on the exquisite watchfulness of the sallow-skinned, blue-frocked girl clutching a blonde baby doll in Julie and the Doll, 1943..."--Kate Sutton "BOOKFORUM"

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