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March 12, 2022July 10, 2022

Alice Neel: People Come First

Alice Neel: People Come First is the first comprehensive West Coast museum survey of the work of American artist Alice Neel (1900–1984). This ambitious retrospective, featuring paintings, drawings, watercolors, and film, positions Neel as one of the century’s most radical painters, a champion of social justice whose longstanding commitment to humanist principles inspired her life as well as her art. 

Neel spent most of her life living and working in New York City, and her work testifies to the diversity, resilience, and passion of the people she encountered there. The exhibition includes portraits of Neel’s neighbors in Spanish Harlem, political leaders, queer cultural figures, activists, mothers, and a diverse representation of nude figures, including visibly pregnant women, all of whom embody a candor and irreverence without precedent in the history of Western art. Together these works illuminate Neel’s uncompromising humanism, which still resonates with the social and cultural politics of our time.

Alice Neel, "Jackie Curtis and Ritta Redd", 1970. Oil on canvas; framed: 154.3 x 108.9 cm (60 3/4 x 42 7/8 in.); unframed: 152.4 x 106.4 cm (60 x 41 7/8 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2009.345 © The Estate of Alice Neel