Reviews and interviews on Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty
St. Martin's Press
Phoebe Hoban’s “Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty,” is the definitive biography of this boldly brilliant painter and her volatile life. As Neel put it, “The road that I pursued, and the road that I think keeps you an artist, is that no matter what happens to you, you still keep on painting.” And paint she did, through the death of her first child, the estrangement of her second ; a nervous breakdown and several suicide attempts; through the Depression, (she was one of the first artists on the WPA project), McCarthyism, the Civil Rights Movement, the sexual revolution of the 60’s, feminism, and the feverish art world of the eighties. Neel’s stated ambition was to document the Zeitgeist. Few have done it better. Her portraits of people as wide-ranging as labor organizer Pat Whalen, Village legend Joe Gould, art critic Meyer Schapiro and uber-celebrity Andy Warhol, among many others, are as psychologically astute as they are visually powerful. Her innovative pregnant nudes are among her signature works.
Some two decades after his death, the life and work of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat continue to fascinate. Basquiat was the Jimi Hendriz of the art world. In less than a decade he went from being a teenage graffiti artist to an international art star; he was dead of a drug overdose at age twenty-seven. Basquiat’s brief career spanned the giddy eighties art boom and epitomized its outrageous excess. A legend in his own lifetime, he was a fixture of the downtown New York cultural scene, a wild nexus of music, fashion, art and drugs. Along the way, Basquiat got involved with many of the period’s most celebrated personalities, from his friendship with Keith Haring and Andy Warhol to his brief romantic fling with Madonna