Alice Neel Chronology

1900
Alice Hartley Neel is born on 28 January, the fourth in a family of five children.
The family moves to nearby Colwyn, a town outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1918–1921
Alice Neel takes the civil service exam and attends evening art classes.

1921–1926
Studies art at Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design), graduating in spring 1925.
Marries Cuban artist Carlos Enríquez in Colwyn. They move to Havana, Cuba.
Daughter Santillana is born.

1927–1928
The family moves to New York, where Santillana dies of diphtheria in 1928.
The second child, Isabella Lillian Enríquez, known as Isabetta, is born.

1930–1932
Enríquez goes to Paris and leaves Isabetta with his parents in Cuba. Neel is hospitalised twice for a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide. After being discharged, moves to Greenwich Village, where she paints street views and portraits of artists and writers.
Neel and Enríquez separate.

1933–1934
Neel exhibits in group shows.
Paints a nude portrait of Isabetta, nearly six years old, when she comes on a visit from Cuba. The painting is destroyed, but Neel later repaints it.

1935–1939
Neel buys a house in Spring Lake, New Jersey, where she spends summers for the rest of her life.
Enrols in the artists’ employment programme WPA which is part of President Roosevelt´s New Deal.
First solo exhibition in 1938.
Meets José Negrón and moves to Spanish Harlem with him. Their son Richard is born in 1939. Shortly after Negrón abandons her.

1940–1942
Meets Sam Brody in 1940 and has a son, Hartley, with him in 1941.
Moves to an apartment on East 108th Street where she paints the majority of her works.

1946
Communist magazine Masses and Mainstream begins to publish illustrations by Neel.
Neel’s father dies

1950–1959
Solo exhibitions in 1950 and 1951 and one of “Two One-Man Exhibitions” in 1954.
Neel is interviewed by the FBI because of her Communist sympathies in 1955.
Neel’s mother dies in 1954.

1962–1969
Moves to the Upper West Side.
Solo exhibition at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where her nude of Joe Gould (1933) is hung in a janitor’s closet to avoid controversy.
First exhibition at Graham Gallery in New York in 1963 which will represent Neel until 1982.
Neel receives recognition from critics and takes a public stand for minorities.
Travels to Soviet Union, Denmark, Norway, Mexico and Spain in 1969.

1970
Neel’s portrait of feminist Kate Millet appears on the cover of Time magazine on 31 August.
Neel paints a portrait of Andy Warhol.

1971–1973
Receives an honorary doctorate from Moore College of Art and Design.
Throughout the 1970s, participates in the debate on the status of female artists.
Portraits of Joe Gould and John Perreault (1972) are included in an exhibition of male nudes in New York in 1973.

1974–1976
The Whitney Museum of American Art organises Alice Neel’s first retrospective exhibition in 1974.
Neel is inducted into the National Institute of Arts and Letters (now the American Academy of Arts and Letters) and receives the International Women’s Year Award in 1976.
Starting in 1975, often works in the Vermont home of Hartley and his wife, Ginny.

1978–1979
A retrospective exhibition of Neel’s drawings and watercolours at Graham Gallery in 1978.
National Women’s Caucus for Art award, presented by Jimmy Carter, 1979.

1981–1983
Has a solo exhibition in Moscow in 1981.
First illustrated monograph on Neel’s work is published in 1983.
Neel’s health deteriorates.

1984
Neel appears on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show with great success.
She continues to paint despite her weakened condition.
Robert Mapplethorpe visits to photograph Neel in early October.
Neel dies at home on 13 October 1984.

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