In the 1970s, Neel began to paint portraits of her extended family as well as a major series of nudes. Neel's nudes played with the conventions of eroticism while asserting the female point of view.
Neel exhibited widely in America throughout the 1970s and in 1974 she held a retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She was regularly invited to lecture on her work and became a role model for supporters of the feminist movement. She was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters (now the American Academy of Arts and Letters), the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the USA, and received a number of national awards including the International Women's Year Award in 1976 and the National Women's Caucus for Art Award for outstanding achievement in the visual arts in 1979. She died in 1984.
The centenary of her birth was marked by a major travelling exhibition held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art among other places.