“Of course she does,” Stavros said. “I looked her up. They haven’t found any of them,” She didn’t want to say aloud what she could all too easily imagine: she would die, and they would dismantle that tiny apartment, and throw the canvases finished and unfinished into the trash. She knew the ones who’d nearly missed that: Alice Neel, whose apartment grew crowded by the decade with the canvases that no one ever saw, because no one was going to show the work of a woman artist who painted her neighbors in Spanish Harlem. Not in the decades when they were all busy Avoiding the Subject – that’s how she saw the clinging to abstraction – while the world burned around them.
Six Sentence Sunday isn’t officially happening this Sunday (see this post for why not) but I’m in the habit so I thought I’d post anyway.
Happily I came across this as I am in the habit of reading on Sundays.
Who is the artist that painted her neighbours in Spanish Harlem while they were avoiding the subject? sounds fascinating
for a class in university we visited a school in Spanish Harlem.
The artist is Alice Neel (1900-1985), best known for her portrait work. She was born in Philadelphia but lived and worked in New York City for much of her adult life. Brilliant and prolific, nonetheless she worked most of her life in relative poverty and obscurity. Her subjects ran the full gamut of race and class, from neighbor children to artists, academics, activists, politicians and celebrities.
Not only is this interesting, but it’s educational. I took one art history class like 15 years ago, but I haven’t felt ‘lost’ in any of your snippets yet.