Alice Neel at OCMA
|Alice Neel, The Robinson Family, 1974. Robinson Family Collection|
I was a little dubious about the Orange County Museum of Art's "Alice Neel: Feels Like Home." It is oddly timed, coming on the heels of 2022's much larger "Alice Neel: People Come First" that played San Francisco (de Young) and New York (Met) and 2023's "Alice Neel: Hot Off the Griddle" in London (Barbican Centre). That would have complicated loan arrangements. The exhibition was organized with the artist's estate, which can mean a lot of atypical works that didn't sell in the artist's lifetime.
In fact the OCMA show is a concise, satisfying mini-survey with about 40 paintings. It includes at least a dozen masterful portraits of Neel's maturity, along with enough early works to give a sense of her development. All that's missing are the nudes—an important omission, however.
|Alice Neel, Belmar, New Jersey, 1935. Courtesy the Estate of Alice Neel and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels|
Born in Mainline Philadelphia, Alice Neel (1900–1984) married Cuban painter Carlos Enriquez after art school and moved to Havana. The match was a disaster, plunging Neel into depression and attempted suicide. She found her way back to New York and lived there for rest of her life.
The OCMA show's earliest works are New York cityscapes and genre scenes of the 1930s. They have notes of Robert Henri, Charles Burchfield, Florine Stettheimer, and Edward Hopper.
|Alice Neel, Dead Father, 1946. Courtesy the Estate of Alice Neel and David Zwirner|
|Alice Neel, Ian and Mary, 1971. Collection of Bobbi and Stephen Rosenthal|
|Alice Neel, Ginny and Elizabeth, 1975. Private collection|
|Alice Neel, Charles, 1978. Private collection|