9 March 2017


h and a

Hartley and Andrew was painted in 1983. ‘Alice Neel’s son Hartley, mismatched in collar, tie and beret, is tensely controlling his own child on an uncomfortable knee. Alice Neel’s trademark blue outline darts and loops around each figure, holding the contours, registering the gauche pose or flaccid anatomy. Hands are claw-like, flesh sags, people coexist uncomfortably with their bodies. Her method, she said, was to chat until her sitters unconsciously assumed their most characteristic pose, revealing “what the world had done to them, and their retaliation”. Perhaps even what the world might do next’ (from a piece here). Who needs novels when we have painters?