Alice Neel: A Chronicle of New York 1950 - 1976

1 June - 31 July 2004
Victoria Miro Gallery II


16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW

Intimate, casual, direct and personal, Alice Neel's portraits are a chronicle of New York types. From her foundations as an artist of social commitment engaged in the government-sponsored Public Works of Art Project and Works Progress Administration Easel Division in the 1930s, Neel was always interested in social engagement. Moving from Greenwich Village to Spanish Harlem in 1938 she had been motivated to 'find more truth'. There she painted children on the street, her keen observation, tempered by subjectivism, contrasting with and complementing the work of such American documentary photographers as Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans and Helen Levitt. Portraits of friends and acquaintances, especially artists and writers, done before the model, and of people encountered by chance, painted from memory, became Neel's principal activity from the 1940s onwards.

In 1962 Neel moved from Spanish Harlem to the Upper West Side and from that moment onwards renewed her engagement with the New York art world. Invitations to exhibit that had previously been unforthcoming now became plentiful, culminating in a major retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974. A popular figure within art world circles, she painted many of its principal protagonists. Her portrait of Andy Warhol, painted two years after he had been shot, is a poignant and frank record of his physical state, expressing vulnerability and detachment.

Bringing together portraits from three decades, this exhibition shows the remarkable range of characters that Neel portrayed in paintings that demonstrate a rare combination of painterliness and acute draughtsmanship. Clothes, gestures, expressions and personalities are closely observed and perceptively summarised in a body of work that draws on sources as various as Beckmann, Balthus, Manet and Matisse. Alternating between sombre and vibrant colours, Neel's application of paint could be hard-edged and broad as she addressed her subjects on canvas without preliminary sketches. The result of this direct approach was a series of paintings that preserved the spontaneity of initial ideas and the liveliness of the one-to-one encounter.

Alice Neel was born in Merion Square, Pennsylvania in 1900 and attended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. She had four children. The first child died of diphtheria in 1927; her second child was removed from her care three years later prompting attempts at suicide. She later gave birth to two sons whom she brought up more or less single-handed while pursuing her career as an artist. Experiencing a life of hardship - her early paintings were destroyed in a fit of peak by a former lover, she suffered a miscarriage in her sixth month of pregnancy and rarely sold work in her early years - she was an independent spirit who paid no attention to the fashions of art but whose work received true recognition late in her career. She died in 1984.

Alice Neel is widely collected and exhibited in America. Exhibitions include her centennial retrospective in 2000 - 2001 organised by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Although Neel has been included in European anthologies, such as The Portrait Now (National Portrait Gallery 1993) and Masculinfeminin - le sexe de l'art (Centre Georges Pompidou 1995), this is the first Alice Neel exhibition to take place in Europe.

Exhibition organised by Victoria Miro Gallery in association with Jeremy Lewison Limited.

Victoria Miro

16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
t: 44 (0)20 7336 8109

View map

Victoria Miro Mayfair

14 St George Street

London W1S 1FE

t: 44 (0)20 3205 8910
View map

Victoria Miro Venice

Il Capricorno, San Marco 1994,

Calle Drio La Chiesa

30124 Venice, Italy

t: +39 041 523 3799
View map



Victoria Miro New York – Office

534 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011, USA
t: +1 (212) 229 2400

Opening Times

London: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–6pm. 


Venice: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–1pm & 2–6pm. During August, Monday–Friday: 10am–1pm & 2–6pm. Please note: Victoria Miro Venice  will remain temporarily closed until further notice.


We are also closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. 

Admission free. Large groups should please contact the gallery in advance to book a visit.



All general enquiries should be sent to

Victoria Miro does not accept unsolicited artist applications.


Before contacting or subscribing please read our Privacy Policy


We respect the choices you make about how you would like to hear from us. You will find links at the bottom of all emails we send from our mailing list which allow you to Update your preferences to change the way we contact you, or Unsubscribe if you want to opt out.


Staff contact details


Victoria Miro
W.P. Miro
Glenn Scott Wright
Divya Pande
Head of Directors' Office, Client and Business Development
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 324 0903


Matt Carey-Williams
Senior Director, Head of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4345
Director, Mayfair
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0494
Elke Seebauer
Director, Venice
Direct line: +39 041 523 3799
Clare Coombes
Director of Sales - Museum Acquisitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0919
Anna Fisher
Director of Sales - Americas
Direct line: +1 212 229 2400
Oliver Miro
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0496
Alessandra Modiano
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4346
Mary Eleanor McNicholas
Art Fair Co-ordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0498
Louis Blanc-Francard
Sales Executive & Assistant to Matt Carey-Williams
Direct line: +44 (0)20 3205 8910
Fern Warriner
Mayfair Coordinator & Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 205 8910
Gallery Manager – Venice
Direct line: +39 041 523 3799
Aileen Dowling
Sales Team Coordinator & Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4344
Eilidh Watson
Front of House and Sales Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 336 8109


Erin Manns
Director of Exhibitions - Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0423
Rachel Taylor
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0431
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0918
Mary Taylor
Production Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0424
Production and Artist Projects
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0426
Exhibitions Associate
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0901


Kathy Stephenson
Director of Communications
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0422
Martin Coomer
Head of Editorial and Digital Content
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0915
Marisa J. Futernick
Digital and Social Media Consultant
Direct line: +1 (860) 549-2576
Hannah van den Wijngaard
Photography, Rights and Reproduction Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0428
Special Projects and Communications
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0912
Design & Communications Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0499


Robert Holzberger
Director of Operations
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0495
Emer Bermingham
Operations Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4349
Adeline Guy
Head Registrar
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7324 0916
Jayne Archard
Senior Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0)207 324 0910
Alice Panton
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0904
Clare Rowe
Paper Archive and Records Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0493
Elina Pelvanidi
Registrar Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4348
Buildings and IT Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0914
Katrina Millar
Press and Events Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Philip Ewe
Library Coordinator and Archive Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109

Technical Services

David Wood
Technical Operations Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0900
Jon Glazier
Head Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0425
Jonny Winter
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 9624 341
Gemma Geraghty
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 9624 340
Rob Phillips
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492
Ross Taylor
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492


Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109