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Alice Neel, “Ballet Dancer” (1950) (© The Estate of Alice Neel, courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London)

For this exhibition, author and critic Hilton Als has curated a selection of Alice Neel’s drawings and paintings portraying people of color, mining the portraits she made while living in upper Manhattan — first in the late 1930s, when she moved to Spanish Harlem, and later on the Upper West Side, where she lived for 22 years until her death in 1984. They include individuals from her daily life, like a ballet dancer or a boy who ran errands for her, as well as prominent figures like the author Alice Childress, the cultural activist Mercedes Arroyo, and the sociologist Horace R. Cayton.

“When she moved to East Harlem during the 1930s Depression, Neel was one of the few whites living uptown,” Als writes in an essay for the exhibition. “She was attracted to a world of difference and painted that. Still, her work was not marred by ideological concerns; what fascinated her was the breadth of humanity that she encountered in her studio, on canvas.”

When: Opens Thursday, February 23, 6–8pm; Hilton Als leads a walk-through on Saturday, March 4, 4pm
Where: David Zwirner (525 and 533 W 19th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

More info here.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...