Alice Neel. Drawings and Watercolors 1927-1978 David Zwirner Gallery on until April 18th
This is a splendid show that was especially moving and surprising for me. What I loved the most, the best of all were her small color and black and white drawings and watercolors from the 20's, 30's that line the walls in the upper gallery and that I've never seen before. Neel's life is the stuff of legends and she is generally held in high regard by many for her intense and penetrating portraits. There are also some larger drawings and portraits (mainly in black and white) from the 70's but for me they pale next to these intense and touching little gems of family and friends done when she was young. To be honest I was not a big fan of hers as a person, I found her difficult to be around, pushy, argumentative and self involved. Once at a Whitney opening she baited a well known realist painter for no reason I could see, and the painter bit back hard. I also was once at a small dinner party with her and Louise Bourgeois (way before Louise was famous) and Alice dominated the conversation. At one point she asked me what I did and when I told her I was an artist, she turned away and continued her monologue while me and Louise sat quietly by. That said I think she was a wonderful artist, and this show is a great testament to her art and her life.