The artist Alice Neel was ignored for several decades, but has been recognized, for a few years, as one of the best portraitists of the last century in the United States. His work draws a choral vision of the New York population from the 1930s to the 1980s, which included friends, neighbors and lovers, celebrities from the art world and also anonymous people who crossed the streets of Spanish Harlem, where they moved , living with workers and immigrants, fleeing from the Manhattan intelligentsia, who would not recognize the quality of his work until shortly before his death, in 1984.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao inaugurates the retrospective of the artist, People first, which can be seen until February 6. It collects 90 paintings, drawings and watercolors by the artist, including many of her female portraits, in which Neel stripped the woman of the status of an erotic object that she had had during almost the entire history of art and removed her from the usual representation, always sweetened and somewhat puritanical. But Neel never settled for the label of portrait painter, seeing it as encompassing a more technical field. She preferred to choose those people whose lives touched her, considering herself rather a “collector of souls”, as the exhibition’s curator, Lucía Aguirre, explains. In the video that accompanies this news, you can discover some of the stories of those portrayed, such as the young Georgie Arce, Carmen and their baby Yudi, or the recruit James Hunter.