Alice Neel: Dark Star

Alice Neel, Richard with Dog, 1954, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 22 1/4 inches (court
Alice Neel, Richard with Dog, 1954, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 22 1/4 inches (courtesy of Victoria Miro Mayfair)

Kathryn Hughes profiles painter Alice Neel on the occasion of the exhibition Alice Neel: My Animals and Other Family at Victoria Miro Mayfair, London, on view through December 19, 2014.

Hughes writes that understanding Neel's personal tragedies and challenges made her life "difficult but uniquely nourishing for the kind of art she felt compelled to make. Living for most of her adult life in penury, she painted everyone she encountered on the streets of New York, from prostitutes to brush salesmen, museum curators to transsexuals... Her abiding subject, though, remained her extended family."