donderdag 28 november 2013

Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty - Phoebe Hoban (Boek)

From Publishers Weekly
Hoban's (Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art) latest biography is a sweeping portrait of a colorful subject, the painter Alice Neel. It is also an effective cultural history of the artistic and political scene in 20th-century New York. This well-documented work brings to life a "collector of souls" whose passion for painting the human figure at a time when abstraction was the rage resulted in years of financial hardship and obscurity. Neel emerges as a resolute survivor who lived by her convictions, both aesthetically and politically. A single mother committed to a bohemian lifestyle, Neel was also a supporter of political movements that ranged from Communism to feminism. While this biography suffers at times from overly detailed accounts of the supporting players in Neel's life and from the author's occasional repetition, it is immensely absorbing, and soars at the end as Neel, in the later decades of her life, finally receives "the recognition she so long deserved." Photos.
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From Booklist
*Starred Review* Arts journalist and trailblazing biographer Hoban (Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art, 1998) is the first to tell the story of artist Alice Neel (1900–1984) in full. Determined, brainy, beautiful, self-absorbed, and profoundly unconventional, Neel “radicalized portraiture” in penetrating, often unnerving paintings of a diverse spectrum of individuals, from her neighbors in Spanish Harlem to Andy Warhol, baring his bullet wounds. Having gained access to heretofore private and stunningly illuminating materials, Hoban is commanding and entrancing as she chronicles Neel’s contrary temperament and tempestuous life. Neel’s marriage to Cuban artist Carlos Enríquez was passionate and doomed, and her brief spell with his wealthy family in Havana was followed by interminable struggles in New York. Neel barely survived poverty, the loss of children, suicidal depression, the destruction of several hundred of her drawings and paintings by a jealous lover, and a torrent of other traumas and tragedies. Yet she kept painting, achieving an “idiosyncratic blend of Expressionism, Symbolism and Surrealism often sharpened with satire.” Hoban writes with remarkable detail, vigor, and insight about Neel’s stint as a WPA artist, complex relationships, focus on social justice, obscurity during the abstract-expressionist years, and phoenixlike rebirth in the 1960s. Judicious and ardent, Hoban has created a galvanizing portrait of a “rebel artist” who remained true to her humanist convictions. --Donna Seaman

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