Victoria Miro Opens Up the Alice Neel Treasure Trove
Rarely was a friend, lover, neighbor—or sometimes even the odd stranger—spared the intimate peculiarity of Alice Neel’s brush. One of the greatest portrait painters of the 20th century, Neel captured the penetrating gazes of New York City personalities—from writers to cabaret singers to no-name bohemians—throughout the various neighborhoods she inhabited. At Victoria Miro’s booth at Frieze Masters, Neel’s 1960s stint as an Upper East Sider is chronicled through the faces of her close-knit circle, where subjects like Abdul Rahman, the apprehensive taxi driver Neel pleaded with to paint, are on view. Other subjects include Randall Bailey, the MoMA security guard Neel captured during a traumatic time, or Purvis, a classmate of one of her sons—all on view as the result of Neel’s vast estate. Though the artist’s critical acclaim came late in life, the pinnacle being her 1974 retrospective at The Whitney, Neel has left behind what the gallery calls a “treasure trove” of paintings, allowing for an exhibition of primary market works from the estate that can be slowly released and all hung together, as such.