The new exhibition “Alice Neel, Uptown,” on view at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London, features 16 portraits of Spanish Harlem by the late painter Alice Neel. Curated by critic and author Hilton Als, the showcase follows a New York exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery. Neel completed the works over a period of five decades while living in Harlem and the Upper West Side before her death in 1984.
Spanish Harlem was largely an immigrant community when Neel moved to the neighborhood during the Great Depression. She became known for capturing scenes and residents. Her signature approach was emphasizing her subjects’ faces, scaling their hands and lower body smaller than their facial features. Her subjects included cultural and political figures like the playwright and actress Alice Childress (the first African-American woman to produce a play in New York City and the first woman to win an Obie Award) and the Japanese-American Vogue graphic designer Ron Kajiwara, who also designed sets for venues like Theater for the New City. Neel also painted friends and acquaintances, like the son of her apartment building’s superintendent, or a Muslim taxi driver.
Click ahead to see images from the showcase with excerpts from the exhibition’s wall text. “Alice Neel, Uptown” is on view until July 29.