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  Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture

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Alice Neel (American, 1900-1984)
Priscilla Johnson, 1966, oil on canvas.
Purchased with funds from the New Art Collectors and the National Endowment for the Arts 1980.14

Alice Neel called herself “a collector of souls,” and her portraits are unflinchingly and often brutally, honest. Socialites, street people, celebrities, friends, neighbors and Nobel laureates are stripped bare beneath her eye. Though she is often characterized as a realist, the emotional intensity and psychological insight of her work reveals the influence of European Expressionists from around the turn of the twentieth century. Like Otto Dix, Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch, Neel seeks to reveal something of the essence of her sitter while expressing her own feelings in the work. Her paintings are notable for their use of line and color, and her sitters are usually depicted with elongated limbs and exaggerated features. Priscilla Johnson depicts a friend of Neel’s son. Her pose, manner of dress and hair depict a world inhabited by American youth of privilege in the 1960s.




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