A soul collector’s love letter to Harlem
Rachel Campbell-Johnston is struck by the penetrating gaze of the great American painter Alice Neel
Alice Neel came from a white bourgeois family. Yet there is not a white face to be seen in this new exhibition of her work — unless you count that of the rosy-cheeked dolly that a little sloe-eyed Hispanic girl cradles awkwardly in her lap. Is this cause for controversy? Should we feel discomforted by such cultural appropriation? When it comes to this most probing and yet apparently casual of portraitists, I suspect not.
Image: Alice Neel, Alice Childress, 1950.
Collection of Art Berliner
© The Estate of Alice Neel
Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London and Victoria Miro, London