Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Alice Neel's Duos

"Art is two things: a search for a road and a search for freedom. It's very hard to get freedom. You know all those things in life keep crawling over you all the time, so it's very hard to feel free."

Alice Neel

I have this great book out of the library, Duos: Alice Neel's Double Portraits, text by Linda Chase, which was published to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the Naples Museum of Art in Naples Florida, in January, 2002. I have pored over many books about Neel over the years and still there are several portraits in this collection that I'd not seen before. What a treat!! I am also currently reading another book about Neel, Collecting Souls, Gathering Dust: The Struggles of Two American Artists, Alice Neel and Rhoda Medary, by Gerald and Margaret Belcher.
From the back cover:

"A perceptive, compulsively readable dual biography that illuminates the struggles of women who try to break out of the roles society expects them to fulfill."

Publisher's Weekly

I have read Neel's autobiography, but this book has taken much of its information from Rhoda Medary's memoir, so it gives a different spin on Alice's life. Rhoda was a classmate, friend and studio mate of Alice's when they were both young women in the 20's. The book focuses on the difficulties these women faced in pursuing their art while having relationships, marriages, children...

The 50's dictum that women were to marry young and have children was still solidly in place when I was growing up in the 60's and early 70's, and I know what a struggle I have had to maintain my art. These two women were from my grandmother's generation...

Alice Neel:

Geoffrey Hendricks and Brian, 1978

Irene and Eva, 1972

Ian and Mary, 1971

Sue Seely and Her Husband, 1943

Richard and Hartley, 1950

The De Vegh Twins, 1975

The Family, 1938

Christine and Ryonen, 1978


artslice said...

Thank you for posting about this book, I'd never heard of it. I hope I can get my hands on a copy. I am a huge fan of Alice Neel, I have 2 of her books and reference them a lot when painting....'Hmmm what would Alice do here?'

Martha Miller said...

you're welcome! it's a very interesting read - hope you can find it!

chahnce said...

thanks for posting this, I'm only a year late in seeing it. If you hadn't put the titles in I may never have found it on a search. My portrait (with daughter) is one you put up (Christine and Ryonen). It has never been in another show that I know of. I have the catalog but was unable to attend the show. Funny also that I used to live in Naples FL.