Counterculture / Culture

“People’s images reflect the era in a way that nothing else could. When portraits are good art they reflect the culture, the time and many other things. . . . Art is a form of history. . . . Now, a painting is [a portrait of a person], plus the fact that it is also the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age”
Alice Neel: Patricia Hills, Alice Neel, 1983

Alice Neel was steadfast in her commitment to painting “pictures of people,” especially those closer to her and those who were part of the US counterculture of her day. Many of her models were anonymous, yet she also painted artists, activists, civil rights leaders, and celebrities who were within her circle at different times in her life. Neel felt attracted to people who overcame social, political, and cultural constraints, and she focused on the unique features of her models, taking care of each element in the composition to highlight both their personality and their most eccentric features.