Seven Oceans

Alice Neel at The Modern Art Museum

I am a member of The Modern Art Museum’s association of friends in Stockholm. It is great because you get a chance to come a little behind the paintings with special shows and introductions for example.

The 5th of September 2008 I attended the opening of a small exhibition by Alice Neel, an american painter with a very special expressionistic style portraiting people around here during most of the 20th century.  “Collector of Souls” is the name of the exhibition. Alice had an extremely difficult life, with two lost children, broken marriages and relationships during her life. It shows in a very dramatic way through her painted models. They express themselves of course but in the same time a lot of Alice Neel. Very powerful paintings. More about Alice Neel click here and about the exhibition at Moderna.

Here some pictures from the opening:

The curator Jeremy Lewinson to the left.                          One of Alice Neel’s sons attending.                      Lars Nittve, director of Moderna

This is the painting that struck me the most. Especially since we were introduced to Alice’s life story with lost children and lost fathers. You can feel her story in this portrait of another couple. Here comes a close up:

I was fascinated by how well the paintings stood out when people were in or around them. In one way the paintings came even more alive I believe:

Alice Neel had painted mostly nude women but she made one male nude study in 1933 with Joe Gould. In one of the paintings she had painted his penis times three. John Perreualt, a gay curator, asked Alice Neel in the 70ties to let him use that painting in an exhibition about the male nude. She agreed as long as he would include a recent work but, since she had no male nudes, he offered to pose. The painting with John has many associative maners with Manet’s Olympia.

At last a study of natural and artificial beauty…

Just before the opening I went into the restaurant for a cup of tea. There something magical happened. I saw a photographer with a couple of models, arranging a table with some wine. He instructed them to talk and be relaxed. They had a hard time doing it it seemed. He wanted them to be more natural and happy.

While he and his assistant in white was instructing them there were another couple sitting at the table beside. I had both these couples in the same line, one unnatural and another natural and glowing. The girl was explaining with passion some storyboard about a film idea she had. She was truely alive and also in love with the boy/man.

Behind them the model couple was sitting trying to become as glowing and alive but could not reach it. I love these photos, even though it might not bring any emotions to others. A study of natural and artifical beauty… :

Here, I believe, I caught both the natural beauty and the artifical:

The pure natural beauty in front and the more artificial in the background. Next picture is the naturals boyfriend’s sneaker, a little out of focus…

So let’s end this small story with the sorti of the models – as in most endings, a fade away without focus…



  1. I didn’t know her.
    Thank you! I like her very much.
    The paintings are really so strong, so dramatic and beautiful at the same time! The “Eyes” are shocking and wonderful…

    Comment by giuliana stella — 6 September, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

  2. Thank you for this high resolution portraits. Absolutely wonderful art.

    Comment by Magda Vacariu — 3 March, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  3. i like both modern arts and classic arts because they both good ..

    Comment by Wall Hooks · — 4 November, 2010 @ 3:26 am

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