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People Come First
March 22, 2021 –
August 1, 2021
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York
exterior show
Met intro
Exhibition Overview
Alice Neel: People Come First was the first museum retrospective in New York of American artist Alice Neel (1900–1984) in twenty years. This ambitious survey positioned Neel as one of the century’s most radical painters, a champion of social justice whose longstanding commitment to humanist principles inspired her life as well as her art, as demonstrated in the approximately one hundred paintings, drawings, and watercolors that appeared at The Met’s. Accompanied by a catalogue.
Visit the Met website
Apollo Winner
Apollo Magazine: Exhibition of the Year
Alice Neel: People Come First
The Met, New York 2021

In around 100 paintings, drawings and watercolours the largest retrospective of Neel’s work in New York – and the first in 20 years – argued for her as one of the great American painters of the 20th century. The artist’s urgent, sympathetic portraits of her fellow New Yorkers felt particularly welcome in 2021, and this show awarded them with the status they have long deserved.
interior show 1
Apartment Quote
In March, the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrated Neel’s art... This month, David Zwirner gallery will present a collection of the artist’s early works, including streetscapes and portraits, at its West 20th Street space in New York City. Continued and growing interest in Neel’s paintings could be viewed as inevitable — her focus on those who lived on society’s margins speaks directly to our cultural moment.
Rennie McDougall
New York Times, September 10, 2021
Audio
Press to hear Alice Neel speak about her life and work
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NYTimes Quote large
It’s time to put Alice Neel in her rightful place in the pantheon
Roberta Smith
The New York Times, April 1, 2021
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NewYorker Quote small
There’s a profound spiritual component to the work; her intense and casual surfaces feel like a wall that she wants her subjects’ souls to walk through to meet ours. At times, her focus, her desire to understand who her subjects are and, by extension, who you might be, can have you rushing out of the galleries for a breath of air.
Hilton Als
The New Yorker, April 19, 2021
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TheVulture Quote small
Experiencing Neel’s work at the Met — after a full year of loss and social upheaval — her gigantic vision, perseverance, and the tragedies of her life tell us that we could be heroes like her and the people she painted. It’s easy to recognize her greatness in retrospect, when her work is celebrated in a setting like this. For most of Neel’s 84 years, though, she was artistically on her own. “I broke all the rules,” she said.
Jerry Saltz
The Vulture, April 6, 2021
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NYTimesquote small
A large retrospective feels at home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s grandest galleries and should silence any doubt about the artist’s originality or her importance... The latest evidence is the gloriously relentless retrospective of Alice Neel (1900-1984), the radical realist painter of all things human, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Roberta Smith
The New York Times, April 1, 2021
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WashingtonPost Quote small
Days after seeing “People Come First’’ ... an afterimage of her brisk vision of vibrant humanity still pulses behind my eyes. Even in memory, Neel's paintings never sit still. They squirm, shiver and jiggle. Particularly memorable is her astonishing sequence of tender yet frank, unidealized portraits of pregnant women, women in childbirth and women breastfeeding. Regarded cumulatively, they are one of the signal achievements of modern American art.
Sebastian Smee
The Washington Post, March 25, 2021
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People Come First
March 22, 2021 –
August 1, 2021
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York
exterior show
Met intro
Exhibition Overview
This was the first museum retrospective in New York of American artist Alice Neel (1900–1984) in twenty years. This ambitious survey positioned Neel as one of the century’s most radical painters, a champion of social justice whose longstanding commitment to humanist principles inspired her life as well as her art. Visit the Met website
Apollo Winner
Apollo Magazine
Exhibition of the Year
People Come First
The Met, New York 2021
The artist’s urgent, sympathetic portraits of her fellow New Yorkers felt particularly welcome in 2021, and this show awarded them with the status they have long deserved.
Read here
interior show 1
Audio
Press to hear Alice Neel speak about her life and work
interior show 1
NYTimes Quote large
It’s time to put Alice Neel in her rightful place in the pantheon
Roberta Smith
The New York Times, April 1, 2021
NewYorker Quote small
There’s a profound spiritual component to the work; her intense and casual surfaces feel like a wall that she wants her subjects’ souls to walk through to meet ours. At times, her focus, her desire to understand who her subjects are and, by extension, who you might be, can have you rushing out of the galleries for a breath of air.
Hilton Als
The New Yorker, April 19, 2021
interior show 1
TheVulture Quote small
Experiencing Neel’s work at the Met — after a full year of loss and social upheaval — her gigantic vision, perse­verance, and the tragedies of her life tell us that we could be heroes like her and the people she painted. It’s easy to recognize her greatness in retrospect, when her work is celebrated in a setting like this. For most of Neel’s 84 years, though, she was artistically on her own.
Jerry Saltz
The Vulture, April 6, 2021
interior show 1
NYTimesquote small
A large retrospective feels at home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s grandest galleries and should silence any doubt about the artist’s originality or her importance... The latest evidence is the gloriously relentless retrospective of Alice Neel (1900-1984), the radical realist painter of all things human....
Roberta Smith
The New York Times, April 1, 2021
interior show 1
WashingtonPost Quote small
Days after seeing “People Come First’’, a career-spanning Alice Neel survey at the Met in New York, an after­image of her brisk vision of vibrant humanity still pulses behind my eyes. Even in memory, Neel's paintings never sit still. They squirm, shiver and jiggle... they are one of the signal achievements of modern American art.
Sebastian Smee
The Washington Post, March 25, 2021
interior show 1
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David Zwirner
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Zrimer
Alice Neel:
The Early Years
David Zwirner
New York
September 9 –
October 16, 2021
Elenka
Zwerner details
Neel at David Zwirner, New York
David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Alice Neel (1900–1984) from the first decades of the artist’s influential career. On view at the gallery’s 537 West 20th Street location, the focused presentation centers around works from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and includes interiors, memory paintings, New York City streetscapes, and intimate portraits of family and others close to Neel.
Zwerner NY Times quote
The New York Times
September 30, 2021
‘Art Gallery Shows to See Right Now.’ By Will Heinrich
The canvases in “Alice Neel: The Early Years”, at David Zwirner, curated by Ginny Neel, the artist’s daughter-in-law, with Bellatrix Hubert … are arranged, very loosely, in order of size and weight as well as chronology, as if to guide viewers toward a transcendent encounter with the artist’s grown sons. Captured, with Neel’s singular magic … are pulsing, slippery and alive, at once present and opaque.
Read here
Fondation Beyeler
Close-Up
Fondation Beyeler
Switzerland
September 19 –
January 2, 2022
Elenka
Fondation Beyeler details
Close-Up at Fondation Beyeler
Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Lotte Laserstein, Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, Marlene Dumas, Cindy Sherman, Elizabeth Peyton. The exhibition shows works by women artists occupying prominent positions within the history of modern art from 1870 to the present day. The work by Alice Neel that will be featured is a wonderful painting seldom loaned: Richard at Age Five, 1945.
Fondation Beyeler essay
Close-Up Catalogue
It’s clear that, as with all Neel’s portraits, the proximate and intimate encounter staged in Pregnant Woman is that between the artist and her model... There is nothing abstracted or distant about the encounter. This is a confrontation with the human as a physical and psychological presence.
Portraiture and Proximity Meditations in a Time of Social Distancing. Essay by Tamar Garb. Buy the book
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All Shows
David Zwirner
The Early Years next arrow
Fondation Beyeler
Close-Up next arrow

Zwirmer
Alice Neel:
The Early Years
David Zwirner
New York
September 9 –
October 16, 2021
Elenka
Zwerner details
Neel at David Zwirner, New York
David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Alice Neel (1900–1984) from the first decades of the artist’s influential career. On view at the gallery’s 537 West 20th Street location, the focused presentation centers around works from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and includes interiors, New York City streetscapes, and intimate portraits.
Zwerner NY Times quote
The New York Times
September 10, 2021
‘Art Gallery Shows to See Right Now.’
By Will Heinrich
The canvases in “Alice Neel: The Early Years”, at David Zwirner, curated by Ginny Neel, the artist’s daughter-in-law, with Bellatrix Hubert … are arranged, very loosely, in order of size and weight as well as chronology, as if to guide viewers toward a transcendent encounter with the artist’s grown sons. Captured, with Neel’s singular magic …
Read here
Fondation Beyeler
Close-Up
Fondation Beyeler
Switzerland
September 19 –
January 2, 2022
Elenka
Fondation Beyeler details
Close-Up at Fondation Beyeler
Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Lotte Laserstein, Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, Marlene Dumas, Cindy Sherman, Elizabeth Peyton. The exhibition shows works by women artists occupying prominent positions within the history of modern art from 1870 to the present day. Neel's work that will be featured is a wonderful painting seldom loaned: Richard at Age Five, 1945.
Fondation Beyeler essay
Close-Up Catalogue
It’s clear that, as with all Neel’s portraits, the proximate and intimate encounter staged in Pregnant Woman is that between the artist and her model... There is nothing abstracted or distant about the encounter. This is a confrontation with the human as a physical and psychological presence.
Portraiture and Proximity Meditations in a Time of Social Distancing. Essay by Tamar Garb. Buy the book
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